The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 30, 2012

Power outages, toppled trees from Hurricane Sandy

Star Beacon

— Hurricane Sandy delivered a blow to Ashtabula County, but it wasn’t the big uppercut some people had feared.

As expected, strong wind toppled trees and dropped power lines, causing power outages across the county.

Incessant rain toppled trees and flooded some thoroughfares in the area.

Schools were closed as a precaution, marking the first time this school year the districts were obliged to use a so-called calamity day.

However, the county didn’t experience any serious shoreline damage and flooding wasn’t as severe as expected, said Tim Howson, county Emergency Management Agency deputy director.

“We’ve seen typical windstorm damage,” he said.

“Some roads have flooded, but there hasn’t been any wide-spread flooding. It could have been much worse.”

No damage was reported at local marinas, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer James Wacker at the Ashtabula’s U.S. Coat Guard station. “One boat broke loose in Conneaut, but the owner managed to get it,” he said.

The worst is apparently over, according to the National Weather Service. Rain will persist through the end of the week, but winds will lessen.

Gusts aren’t expected to exceed 35 mph Wednesday and Thursday, according to the forecast. Flood and wind warnings were set to expire Tuesday night.

Sandy still proved an ungracious visitor, pulling the plug on thousands of Illuminating Co. customers, according to the utility’s website. As of late Tuesday morning, some 12,104 customers — about 23 percent of the county’s total, were without power. A few hours later, the number of customers without power had dropped by 2,000, according to the website.

Some of the hardest-hit areas were along the lakeshore, including Conneaut, North Kingsville, Saybrook Township. Outages were reported in every city, village and township in the county, according to Illuminating Co. information. Trees and limbs that collapsed on power lines were a big culprit, officials said.

Traffic was rerouted off Route 20 in parts of Conneaut, Ashtabula Township and Geneva Township because of downed wires or trees, safety personnel said.

The federal highway was shut down just west of Furnace Road in Conneaut, in front of the Ashtabula Towne Square mall in Ashtabula Township and between Myers and Ninevah roads in Geneva Township.