High winds deliver crushing blow

ATWATER, Ohio – Violent winds ripped through the tri-state region early Dec. 12, downing trees and power lines and leaving many to clean the damage left behind.

The National Weather Service recorded winds of up to 75 mph in Portage, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

The wind gusts leveled a two-story barn on Waterloo Road in Atwater, Portage County, owned by Harold and Chester Wise. The barn was used as the family’s only hay storage, and they lost about 6,000 square bales of hay and straw in the barn and about 50 1,400-pound round bales adjacent to the barn.

The Wises farm more than 200 acres on two farms and raise about 50 beef cattle.

“We got a call early that morning from a township trustee asking us if we knew the barn on Waterloo was down,” said Naomi Wise. “We thought he was joking, until my grandson and I went over to the farm to check it out. Then we wished it was a big joke.”

The barn was built in 1925, but the family had made many updates and repairs in recent years to ensure what they thought would be a long existence.

The family spent over $15,000 in 1998 to put a new roof on the barn. They had reinforced the walls and floors six years ago, and it was also painted recently.

“We put all of that money into the barn because we planned to use it for a long time. This barn has withstood tornadoes and everything else,” said Naomi Wise. “I just can’t believe it just dropped. Our insurance adjuster expected to see a weather-beaten barn, but that’s just not the case.”

The barn was insured for $30,000. Although they have not received official word from the insurance company, Chester Wise said he couldn’t build the same type of barn for less than $100,000.

“We will not rebuild it. We will probably build something more practical like a pole barn for hay storage,” said Naomi Wise.

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