SALEM - Damaging winds accompanied by a heavy downpour of rain swept through the city and Perry Township Saturday afternoon, knocking trees into homes, downing utility lines and leaving some residences and businesses without power.
As of 6:15 p.m. Saturday, about 3,000 customers in the area remained without power, but First Energy crews were working to get their service restored, First Energy spokesman Robin Patton said.
About 8,000 customers lost service initially on the east end without power.
A large tree wreaked havoc to the home of Gary and Beth Leininger of 668 Woodland Avenue in Salem. It came down during the furious storm that struck with harsh straight-line like winds and hard rain Saturday afternoon. Nobody was hurt at the residence and damage costs were not available. (Salem News photo by J.D. Creer)
What started out as a hot, sticky sunny day turned into a hard rain with thunder and lots of wind. The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement at 2:21 p.m. for a storm with wind gusts up to 40 mph and dime-size hail. Patton said the storm came through the Salem area and knocked out power around 3:15 p.m.
Lt. Rod Hughes of the Salem Fire Department said there were no injuries that he knew about, with the whole department called in to help respond to the numerous trees and lines down and trees on houses, along with the city police.
The Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department was also called out for trees down and wires down in affected areas of the township.
Steve Lawlis, a resident of Washingtonville, said his grandmother's home on Adams Avenue near Southeast Boulevard sustained damage when a neighbor's tree split down the middle and landed on her own tree and took it down. Both trees hit the house, but nobody was hurt. His grandmother, Twila Kloos, was home at the time the storm hit.
"There's not much left of the back porch," he said.
Lawlis referred to the storm as a microburst. He was at the GetGo in Salem several years ago when a similar storm hit the east end, sending cars and shopping carts flying. He said this storm reminded him of that, with the damage to such a confined area.
Bob Greenisen called to report a large tree uprooted in the 1600 block of East State Street which nipped the back of a house and landed on a back porch roof, blocking the door to an apartment. At his parents' home on East State Street, he said a tree limb came down and yanked the wires and electrical service off of the house.
A tree also landed on a home on Woodland Avenue where a resident was in the room affected, but was not injured.
Perry Township Police Chief Mike Emigh said they started getting reports of storm damage while he was at the north station on North Ellsworth Avenue where the sun was shining bright.
"I'm looking out the window, thinking, you gotta be kidding me," he said.
Most of the damage in the township was confined to the Painter Road area where trees were down and lines were down, although they did have some power outages reported on state Route 9. He knew of no injuries.
He also compared the storm to a microburst, telling how some people reported it "just started raining out of the blue" and a big wind hit.