The big blow: windstorm pounds area

Messenger photos by Rick Palsgrove
John Neth of Groveport surveys the damage to his property by a tree blown over in the windstorm on Sept. 14.
Groveport Public Works Department workers were hard at work in clearing the debris caused by the windstorm. Groveport road crews were out and quickly cleared the biggest trees out of the streets almost as soon as they fell. "The Public Works Department and the police did an outstanding job," said Mayor Lance Westcamp.
This port-a-potty in Groveport’s Blacklick Park was no match for the 75 mph winds.
Messenger photo by Rachel Scofield
Gusty remnants of Hurricane Ike snapped a pine tree in the Lithopolis Cemetery on Sept. 14. No markers appeared to be damaged.

When the winds first picked up on Sept. 14 many people expressed relief that the gusts would blow away the sticky, late summer humidity, but, as the day wore on, it was clear this was not your typical summer breeze.

Winds gusting up to 75 mph, the remnants of Hurricane Ike combined with a cold front, blasted into central Ohio shredding trees, knocking over utility lines and poles, ripping roofs, strewing trash, and toppling anything else not nailed down. Hundreds of thousands of people were left without electricity.

Birds and squirrels hunkered down and were nowhere to be found in the roaring wind. Butterflies could be seen clinging to blades of grass low to the ground.

While Canal Winchester and Lithopolis suffered damage and power outages, the village of Groveport seemed to be hit particularly hard by the windstorm with nearly the entire village left without power and bombarded with falling trees and limbs.

"I counted 14 utility poles leaning or down in the village, four of them with transformers," said Groveport Public Works Superintendent Dennis Moore.

The streets were covered with fallen trees, limbs, and a bounty of walnuts, which will be a future feast for squirrels. The limbs and walnuts cracked and popped as they were crushed by the tires of vehicles picking their way through the debris.

Young trees planted along Groveport’s Main Street were uprooted, looking like some giant had come along and plucked them out of the ground.

People came outside to marvel at the power of the windstorm, survey the damage, and check in with neighbors as the winds continued to roar.

"I heard a tree cracking and I thought, ‘Please don’t hit the house! Don’t hit the house!’" said Groveport resident Jennifer Hardesty.

The tree she heard did fall, but it fell between her home and that of John Neth, pulling down Neth’s electric wires with it.

Neth said he was sorry to see the tree’s fate.

"It was a good shade tree," said Neth.


As the sun set the wind slowly began to die out, but the damage was done.

With no power, the dark of night began to envelope the town and folks became more aware of when sunset seeps in. They searched their homes for candles and flashlights. They also sought dinner because, without power, their food was thawing out and not fit to eat.

Crowds flocked to the commercial strip in west Groveport, which still had power, to find a meal.

Restaurants in that area became swamped with customers. One fast food manager encouraged and praised her workers in order to keep their spirits up during the dinner crush, and, after the rush subsided, she happily proclaimed, "I can see the rear of the store again!"

Standing in line at another restaurant, one resident observed that the damage from the windstorm reminded him of the ice storm of December 2004.

"Except it’s warmer," he joked.

The following day people could be seen in their yards raking up debris, cutting up fallen trees, and generally just restoring order. Some young entrepreneurs drove around offering their services in cleaning up yards.

As long time Groveport resident Anne Rarey raked her yard she said, "In a way, maybe it’s good something like this happens once in a while to make us appreciate what we have. You do the things you can do, only you do them by hand. Then you look things over and realize you’re thankful that the only things that are lost are just material things."

Repair tips

The severe winds from the remnants of Hurricane Ike that ripped through central Ohio on Sept. 14 left a lot of damage for homeowners to deal with.

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. Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and any specific filing requirements the company may have. 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. Track all expenses associated with the los and keep copies of all of your paperwork.

• 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 in order 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.

• Helpful Web sites

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