COLUMBUS — Violent storms that tore through the eastern United States late Friday, June 29, have left at least 12 people dead and more than 3 million without power.
The storms hit the region amid a record heat wave, uprooting trees, knocking down power lines.
Emergencies have been declared in Washington, along with four states — Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio.
Six deaths were reported in Virginia, two in New Jersey, two in Maryland and one each in Ohio and Kentucky — most the result of fallen trees.
Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich declared a state of emergency June 30 for the entire state.
The severe storms and high winds knocked out power for approximately 1 million power company customers across two-thirds of Ohio.
The widespread outages could take up to a week to fully restore and, together with the current severe heat wave, could create crisis situations for the elderly, young children and those with sensitive medical conditions.
Excessive heat warnings continue in much of the United States, and most of central and southern Ohio remains under a heat advisory, with heat index values up to 100 degrees.
The governor’s declaration authorizes state agencies to take any necessary actions to assist local government authorities anywhere in Ohio to help respond, cleanup and recovery efforts and coordinate activities.
More storms Sunday
A second line of storms on Sunday evening resulted in 20,000 more power outages within American Electric Power’s Ohio service area alone, bringing the utility’s total customers without power to 435,000, as of 9 p.m. July 1.
Power outages remain across the state, and many areas in Belmont County, Ohio, and Marshall and Ohio counties in West Virginia, are not expected to be restored until July 6. AEP service around Newark and east to Cambridge may be out until July 8, and areas near Jackson, Ohio, may be without power until July 9.
As the storm moved across Ohio, thunder, lightning and high winds of more than 80 mile per hour, knocked down transmission structures, poles, power lines and trees across AEP Ohio’s service territory.
The central Ohio counties of Franklin, Delaware and Licking were the hardest hit, with approximately 345,000 customers affected. More than 390,000 customers were affected by damage to AEP’s transmission system. In AEP’s western Ohio service area alone, 167 transmission structures were downed by the storm between Van Wert and Ottawa.
Bigger than Ike
The event affected not only Ohio but much of the eastern U.S. More than 4 million people across the Midwest and the East Coast were left without power by the storm.
Damage reports indicate this storm is a larger event than Hurricane Ike that hit Ohio in September 2008.
Damage continues to be assessed on-ground and via aerial patrol. Reports of wires down and other hazards across the AEP Ohio service territory has grown from 4,700 Saturday morning to more than 9,000 today.
In FirstEnergy’s service area in West Virginia, Maryland, western Pennsylvania and central Ohio, Friday night’s severe thunderstorm that left 566,000 customers without power. Overall, 72,000 Ohio Edison customers were affected.
As of 1:30 p.m. Sunday, FirstEnergy utilities have restored service to more than 314,000 of the more than 566,000 customers affected by the damaging storm.
OSU airport, barns
Ohio State University’s Don Scott Field airport has reported major damage, including an overturned aircraft, major damage to animal barns at the nearby farm, and other damage to hangars and airport operations buildings.
Suzanne Steel, spokesperson for OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, said electric was still out Monday morning at both the Don Scott and Waterman farms.
“The good news no people or animals are hurt,” she said. “We did get some damage out there and they’re still assessing it.”
Generators were in use and feed for animals was being bagged, to avoid needing electric.
At the Don Scott Farm, she said the horse barn suffered structural damage, an overhead garage door was damaged and part of the roof was peeled back.
As of Monday morning, electricity had been restored to the university’s sheep barn, she said.