Storm damage continues growth

LISBON – Two more seriously damaged home was found in Lisbon during an assessment by county and state officials and volunteers since Wednesday’s storm, bringing the total to four, Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency Director Luke Newbold said Friday.

One was destroyed. Twenty other homes suffered minor damage, meaning they can be repaired within 30 days, and 71 others were affected, meaning they sustained damage to the roof, sidings and gutters.

Homes considered seriously damaged are those that cannot be repaired within 30 days or are uninhabitable. A home is considered destroyed when the cost to repair exceeds the cost to rebuild, Newbold explained.

The homes do not meet the requirement for federal assistance funds, which are that at least 25 uninsured homes must be considered seriously damaged, he added.

There were only two damaged homes that were uninsured.

“In order to get a threshold, any type of presidential declaration or federal funding the whole state of Ohio has to have a huge amount of homes that are totally destroyed with uninsured homeowners, and that just didn’t happen here. It doesn’t even look like we are going to meet a threshold for small business loans,” he said.

A few of the businesses affected were in the immediate downtown area, like Huntington Bank in the square, which operated without phone or computer service for two days, and the Steel Trolley Diner, which was closed for the first time in a long time following the storm. The diner is open 24 hours a day seven days a week.

The downburst also affected the Morning Journal operations until late Thursday.

Newbold said state EMA representatives anticipate it will probably take about three weeks for cleanup of debris alone.

“For the amount of work the power company had to do they were able to do it very quickly and from what was anticipated at the beginning with everybody coming together this cleanup is going a lot quicker than what was originally anticipated,” he said.

Roughly 3,000 Ohio Edison customers lost power during the downburst on Wednesday, and power was restored to all but about five as of Friday afternoon, he noted.

Mayor Dan Bing and Columbiana County commissioners were impressed with the efforts, he said.

Bing and commissioners declared a state of emergency for the governor to sign, with the hopes of receiving state funding, and whether that will happen is still unknown, Newbold said.

Gov. John Kasich on Friday declaired a state of emergency for debri removal. The declaration paves the way for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to assist with clearing roads and removing debris.

The village is receiving support through other avenues, however, like the local Lions Club that got involved after witnessing the damage.

Club member Bill Hoover said he realized help was needed after seeing the storm’s effect on a neighboring home, although his own home was not affected.

“After the storm went through, naturally, there was no electricity or anything. All of the neighbors were outside discussing what had gone on, just being neighborly, and someone said Mary’s (Bowser) house had been pretty badly damaged. I took a walk up just to see how bad it was … I knew she was going to need help,” he said.

Bowser’s home suffered extensive damage after a tree fell on the roof.

But while the damage around town was bad, Hoover wasn’t shocked.

“I lived in Winona when the tornado went through there in 1974. I really felt that it hadn’t been a tornado that went through because there wasn’t the damage that I had seen in a tornado,” he said.

The National Weather Service out of Pittsburgh determined Lisbon had experienced a downburst after a meteorologist took a tour of the area. A downburst is a downward draft of wind that can reach speeds up to 80 and 90 miles per hour.

While the storm did cause a minor gas line leak in the area of West Lincoln Way and West Washington Street, Hoover, who also sits on the Lisbon Board of Public Affairs, said he was pleased to see the storm did not cause any water line breaks.

“The plant performed as it was designed to perform. All emergency generators kicked on right away, so all the money the board of public affairs has invested in our new treatment plant” was worthwhile, he said.

As for the Lion’s Club, they will meet on Wednesday to discuss how to meet storm-related needs.

Newbold wished to thank the club and everyone involved, including officials from EMAs in Mahoning and Carroll counties, the Lisbon Police Department, and Columbiana, East Liverpool and Salem street crews, Eric Kurtz of Hickory Hill Forest and Tree, the Advanced Training Group, local Red Cross, the faith-based Rapid Response Team, County Sheriff’s Office and Highway Patrol, amateur radio operators and Ginger Grille who helped with submitting the proper paperwork to the state for the damage assessment.

The EMA has also heard from the Methodist Regional Disaster Administrator, which has offered to help.

The Red Cross set up a shelter inside the United Methodist Church across from the EMA office. A shelter was originally set up at the New Christian Church at East Washington and Vine Streets, and moved to the Methodist Church later.

In all, five residents used the shelter over two days, Newbold said.

Anyone whose home was damaged and does not have insurance, or anyone in need of support through a volunteer organization should contact the EMA office at 330-424-9725.