Calm after the storm

 
 Messenger photo by Christine Bryant
A powerful wind storm peeled back the roof of Blacklick Elementary Sept. 14 and cut power to thousands across Central Ohio for several days.
 
 Messenger photo by Christine Bryant
Hurricane-force winds caused a tree to topple over onto Chris and Cindy Hanes’ work vehicle parked in front of their house on Rodebaugh Road in Reynoldsburg Sept. 14.
 
 Messenger photo by Rachel Scofield
John Hemmerly stands beside a large tree uprooted by the Sept. 14 wind on his Pickerington Road property.
 
 Messenger photo by Christine Bryant
Broken tree limbs cover the front lawn of Montrose Elementary School in Bexley. A wind storm on Sept. 14 uprooted several trees in Bexley.
 Messenger photo by Christine Bryant
A tree in front of this Reynoldsburg home split during the wind storm Sept. 14.
 
 Messenger photo by Christine Bryant
A tree in front of a Bexley home was torn from its roots during the Sept. 14 windstorm.

When Chris and Cindy Hanes returned to their Reynoldsburg home on the night of Sept. 14 to find a

tree smashed into their work truck parked outside, emotions ran high.

It didn’t take long, however, to put the disaster into perspective – their son, who was home at the time of the wind storm, was unharmed, and their house was still intact.

"Nobody got hurt," Chris Hanes said as he began dragging the tree limbs that littered his front lawn

into a pile the morning after the storm. "That’s all that matters."

The Hanes, like thousands of families across central Ohio, spent last week picking up fallen branches and trees and assessing the damage their properties sustained when winds of 75 mph blew through the region Sept. 14.

The culprit – a combination of Hurricane Ike and a cold front that made its way over Central Ohio.

Although many of the limbs have now been cleared off the streets and residents’ front lawns, it could be weeks before companies are available for repairs due to the backlog of requests.

Natural disasters such as the wind storm that hit can bring out the best in people, but also brings out

individuals who take advantage of those in dire situations.

These scams often involve home repairs.

The Better Business Bureau has issued the following tips while continuing to clean up following the wind storm.

• Contact your insurance agent or company claims representative as soon as possible. If your insurer does not call you back or send an adjuster to your property within three days, call the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 for assistance.

• Don’t be pressured into signing a long-term contract. Although you may be anxious to get things

back to normal, avoid acting in haste. Make temporary repairs if necessary.

• Watch out for the "storm chasers." These individuals move into an area and set up shop following a storm. Some have collected money from homeowners and move on to the next storm site without paying suppliers for leaving work unfinished. This can leave the homeowner holding the bag for additional costs.

• Take time to shop around for contractors. For repairs, get competitive bids, check out references

and get a report from the BBB.

• Check with your local authority. The company may require licensing, bonding or registration to lawfully do business.

• Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect or building official inspect it.

• Prepare a written agreement with anyone you hire. It should describe the work to be done, the materials to be used and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Review it carefully before signing. Never pay for all repairs in advance, and don’t pay cash.

The response: How cities fared in the storm

Bexley

Bexley City Service Director Bill Harvey said all parts of Bexley were affected with power outages after Sunday’s windstorm.  

Some people got power back by the following morning, he said, and power was gradually being restored to the rest of the city. He said a group started working as early as the afternoon of the storm and all of the service crews had been out working the following Monday and Tuesday.  

Their first priority, he said, was clearing out major streets. Then they worked on getting fallen trees

cleaned up in other streets.  He said they would continue taking care of trees that pose danger and

then move on to other cleanup.    

– Andrew Sharp, staff writer

 

Pickerington

In Pickerington, the remnants of Hurricane Ike toppled trees and peeled shingles from rooftops.

The entire city lost power on Sept. 14, although by Tuesday, Sept. 16 nobody had notified the city that they were still without electricity, Service Manager Ed Drobina said.

The awning of the city pool was damaged and a lamppost at the pool snapped at its cement base.

City Manager Tim Hansley said the city chose to leave the awning in place after the season ended so that it could be power-washed at the same time as the pool itself in an effort to save money.

"Obviously we did not predict a hurricane," Hansley said.

The city plans to use insurance to cover repair costs. Residents were asked to drag fallen branches to the curb in as large of pieces as possible for the service department to collect. Drobina estimated the mess would take three to four weeks to clear.  

The area will receive Emergency Management Agency funding to cover equipment and the first 72 hours of overtime, Drobina said.

– Rachel Scofield, staff writer

 

Reynoldsburg

Reynoldsburg city property did not sustain a lot of property damage, though minor damage was reported at the police department, Acting Safety and Service Director Pam Boratyn said.

On the night of the wind storm, the city had five men out cleaning streets for five hours, followed by seven men out for eight hours on Monday.

Some police officers also arrived early for their shifts to help maintain traffic flow in the areas

where traffic lights were without power, Boratyn said.

"I believe the city responded well. I believe the people for the city responded well," she said.

Though it’s unclear how many Reynoldsburg residents lost power, Boratyn said Reynoldsburg residents who live in the three counties the city resides in – Franklin, Fairfield and Licking – all were affected.

– Christine Bryant, Eastside editor

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