HOLMES COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – Cities and villages across Holmes County are among the areas hardest hit by the powerful storms that pounded Northeast Ohio late Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
“There’s damage in every one of our communities. It hit hard. I mean, it was in one giant swath, we had two storms kind of back to back a couple of hours apart,” said Holmes County Commissioner Dave Hall.
A FOX 8 crew in SkyFox was overhead on Tuesday surveying the damage, which included scores of downed trees and power lines that are blocking roads across the county.
In response to the hazardous conditions, the Holmes County Sheriff issued an advisory, limiting travel in some areas to first responders and work crews.
After the storm hit, the county decided to use plow trucks to try and clear the roads of fallen trees and power lines.
“We have plenty of roads closed for a reason. It’s a danger issue, so we want people to be understanding. If you can stay home, let us get the job done,” Commissioner Hall said.
Communities like the village of Benton were strafed by winds clocked up to 90 miles an hour.
“All of the sudden you could just hear it coming down this creek behind me and it came with a vengeance. It was loud, it was strong, the rain was just coming down sideways,” Benton resident Dave Mast told FOX 8.
When you see the level of damage overhead, you realize how fortunate residents are that they knew the storm was coming.
“We had a great early warning system. Sirens throughout the county. Into the communities that went off, they were hit, we had plenty of time to respond, to get into the basements and to seek shelter,” said Commissioner Hall.
Several witnesses reported seeing a funnel cloud near the village of Berlin. Authorities are now working with the National Weather Service to determine if the damage was caused by an actual tornado or powerful straight line winds.
All across Holmes County, FOX 8 witnessed members of the county’s large Amish community working side-by-side with their English neighbors to clear trees and debris and make repairs.
“Everyone was coming out with a chainsaw. Neighbors were helping neighbors, strangers were helping strangers, pulling debris off the roads. It was heartwarming,” said Commissioner Hall.
Efforts to restore power to homes and businesses in Holmes County continues tonight. At one point, 90% of all electric customers were without power.