By Charlie Warnimont
Sentinel Sports Editor
PUTNAM COUNTY - Sounds of generators running and chain saws operating filled the air in Putnam County.
That was after a severe thunderstorm ripped across the county around 4 p.m. on Friday, June 29, leaving massive destruction in its wake. Very few county residents were spared damage to their property as winds in excess of 80 MPH accompanied the storm as it traveled across the area. Despite damage to houses, trees, farm buildings and many other structures or decorative pieces county residents are slowly starting to recover from the destruction.
"Certainly this has hit every part of the county in some form or another," Putnam County Sheriff James Beutler said. "It's going to be a while before all the cleanup is done. We had a real good showing of people coming out to help other residents and that's what this county is all about. There are a lot of families here and everyone is grateful for that. They can all pull resources from each other and help each other out."
Among the major concerns when the storm hit was when the electricity would return to everyone in the county. After the storm hit Friday Putnam County EMA Director Steve Odenweller estimated that 99 percent of county residents were without power. As of noon Tuesday that number was slowly coming down as crews from American Electric Power and Paulding-Putnam are working long hours to repair broken poles and downed lines to get everyone back up and running.
"Although we have had some setbacks, we are making progress," an AEP spokesman said. "I think at this point we should have 90 percent of Putnam County back under power by Saturday. There will be some smaller areas that could take a little longer due to the amount of damage to lines and poles."
As of noon Tuesday power had been restored to most of Ottawa and Glandorf as well as parts of Pandora, Leipsic, Columbus Grove and Kalida. As they are able to energize more parts of the county that aids them in being able to push further ahead. Due to the amount of damage to power lines crews from outside of the area have been joining local AEP forces to aid in the recovery effort.
Residents are reminded even though power has been restored to an area there still could be problems with downed lines AEP does not know about. If you encounter such a problem you are encouraged to call AEP at their 800 number and report such instances.
The National Weather Service dubbed the storm "an inland hurricane" due to the strength of its winds. The Office of Public Safety in Putnam County had a top wind speed of 86 MPH during the storm. Due to amount of damage from the storm, along with the power outages, Putnam County and the State of Ohio were declared a disaster area by Governor John Kaisch on Sunday. The declaration will help aid in the recovery effort.
"After the storm hit, our main concern was making contact with everyone. That was the big thing," Odenweller said. "We knew we were going to be without power, we didn't realize it was going to be this long. We wanted to make sure we could account for everyone and see if anyone was hurt. After that we were looking for people with potential medical issues, fires things like that, since the alarms are not going to be there. From our end, it was it was going to be safety service, to make sure the population is protected."