WAYNE COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – Clean up is underway and thousands remain without power after violent storms steamrolled across Wayne County.
Residents say the storms hit like a hurricane but felt like a tornado with strong wind gusts of at least 70 mph.
Some storm spotters reported gusts of more than 80 mph.
“It was just a freak storm out of nowhere,” said Linda Freeman in Wooster. “It was very scary.”
Freeman and her family were all home when the storm hit.
Massive trees around her historic home were either snapped in half or uprooted and toppled onto the house; splitting the roof into two parts.
“Part of it is laying in the neighbor’s driveway and part of it is laying in the backyard,” she said.
The tops were also ripped off of the greenhouses at Moreland Fruit Farm.
Toppled trees fell across the railroad tracks and several roadways were flooded, including Messner Road which was blocked by both deep water and fallen trees.
Along SR 83 in Wooster, half a dozen power poles in a row were all flattened.
“South of SR 30 and west SR 83 seems to be where most of the damage has occurred,” said Cpt. Doug Hunter. “Best advice is to prepare to be without power for a significant amount of time.”
Crews are working around the clock to clear the roads and restore power, but as of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, many remained in the dark with 5,200 without electricity in Wooster alone, according to AEP.
That’s causing major problems for businesses like the Mini Mart on Dover Road where they just received a large shipment of frozen foods and ice cream before the storms hit.
“Nothing looks like it will be salvageable. Everything’s thawed,” said Assistant Manager Amanda Roberts. “It’s thousands, thousands of dollars lost.”
At HRN Construction and Restoration, their phones started ringing off the hook around 4:30 a.m. and haven’t stopped since.
“It was a little chaotic,” said Mitigation Manager Jordan Swihart. “Just kind of scattered everywhere trying to help as much as we can.”
Authorities are advising people to exercise caution when traveling, to not cross any flooded streets and look out for the downed power lines because it could be days if not longer before things are back to normal.