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Ohio


Hurricane Sandy spares much of Ohio, but not all
Wind damage, street flooding, and power outages are main problems
by WKSU's KEVIN NIEDERMIER


Reporter
Kevin Niedermier
 
Waves crash near the old Cleveland Public Power plant on E. 55th Street in Cleveland.
Courtesy of Robert Sustersic
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In The Region:

Northeast Ohio is cleaning up damage caused by wind the effects of Hurricane Sandy that swept through the region. Emergency response officials say the impact was not as heavy as expected, but Northeast Ohio still saw plenty of street flooding, downed trees and power lines and other issues causing problems. As the storm winds down, WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier looks at the aftermath.

(Click image for larger view.)

It was breezy, cold, and raining lightly this morning after the heavy rain and sustained winds of close to 40 mile per hour had blown through. But police and fire departments remained busy. There was still danger at about 9:30 this morning in Cleveland Heights where this police officer had Edgehill Road blocked off.

“There’s an oak tree that fell on a house down there and it’s on some power lines, you can see it smoking. Those power lines could snap any minute now.  Hold on, I’ll be right back.”

The officer spotted someone riding a bike toward the downed tree and stopped him before he could be injured. Wind damage made up the bulk of the calls on a busy night according to Captain Mike Tish of Cleveland Heights Fire House number one.

Most Northeast Ohio problems involved wind damage

“The crew responded to over 50 runs of which there were a large number of trees down, some were into houses, none were made uninhabitable though there was some structural damage.  We have many wires down caused by tree branches. It hasn’t been that bad, 50 calls is about 20 more than we usually get each night. Snow storms are much worse, we’ve had 200 runs a night.”

A building scare in Cleveland

There was a scare in downtown Cleveland when the façade of the Sterling Building on Euclid Avenue was damaged during the storm. The building, which house’s Cuyahoga County’s main computer system, was evacuated. But structural engineers have determined it’s safe to occupy, so workers will return to their jobs. County spokeswoman Nicole Daily-Jones.

“The fiberglass façade of the building came loose in the storm. So to keep everyone safe outside the build a security guard will be posted on that side of the building to keep people away until repairs can be made.”

Cuyahoga County learned from the storm

Overall, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald says the storm had a silver lining.

“It was a serious weather incident, but it wasn’t as bad as we feared. It was actually a good test of our emergency response capabilities. This was the big weather incident since the new county government took over. We’ve restructured our emergency management department and I think things worked well. There’s a very professional staff and they worked hard and executed their action plan. We did a pretty good job of communicating with the 59 cities in the county. That’s the challenge, you’ve got 59 communities that have to respond plus the county services, and they worked well together.”

Thousands still without power

Power outages remain one of the biggest headaches for Northeast Ohio residents. First Energy spokeswoman Jennifer Young says more than 200,000 customers are without power across Ohio, most of them in Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain counties along Lake Erie. She says now that most of the storm has passed through repair crews can assess the damage and determine when power will be restored. And Young says help is coming.

“We have crews from as far away as Missouri, Colorado and Montana that are responding. We also have crews coming in from Toledo Edison because western Ohio as not as hard hit was we were.”

The storm also led to most schools being closed, the rerouting of some public transportation routes, and the closing of a section of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail because of high water.
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