4 Killed in Midwest Storms; Property Damage Extensive

June 7, 2010

Tornados and thunderstorms that swept through the Midwest over the weekend killed at least four people in Ohio, sent several to hospitals, destroyed 50 homes and damaged scores more, as well a high school gymnasium where graduation was to be held Sunday.

Authorities in northwest Ohio are still searching through homes and couldn’t say whether anyone else is missing, Lake Township Fire Chief Todd Walters said. Walters flew over the damage Sunday morning and estimates the storm left an eight-mile path of destruction in a straight line over an area of farm fields and light industry. The storm narrowly missed the heavily populated suburbs on southern edge of Toledo.

A township police and emergency medical services building looked to be a total loss. The storm ripped off most of the building’s back half, tossing a car into where the building once stood, now a mishmash of 2-by-4 beams and insulation strewn about. A patrol car nearby was flattened.

All the emergency dispatchers and 911 operators had to be moved to a nearby town.

“It’s unbelievable,” Walters said. “It’s just total destruction – stuff just completely flattened or gone.”

Lake Township High school was also among the hardest hit buildings. The field house was damaged and the cafeteria was destroyed, Superintendent Jim Witt said, and some buses were flung across the school parking lot.

Storms moving across Ohio on June 4 caused three crashes involving 11 cars near Dayton and toppled a concessions trailer at a festival in central Ohio.

Police say the crashes happened shortly after 6 p.m. Friday on northbound I-675 near Beavercreek. Sgt. Ed Mejia of the Highway Patrol’s Xenia post says thunderstorms slowed traffic, causing four cars to crash. Seven more cars crashed in two additional accidents while trying to avoid the initial crash. The Patrol says no one was seriously injured.

In Newark, outside Columbus, wind gusts knocked over trees and carnival tents just before 8 p.m. at the Strawberries on the Square Festival. Newark Police Sgt. Barry Connell says one worker was trapped when a concessions trailer tipped, and firefighters freed her by cutting open the roof. Police say no one was seriously injured.

In central Illinois, the National Weather service confirmed reports of a tornado touching down 80 to 100 miles southwest of Chicago, meteorologist Charles Mott said. He did not have further details.

Ohio Department of Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson urged those affected by the storms to contact their insurance providers as soon as possible. She also reminded Ohioans to include a review of their insurance policies as part of their storm season preparation.

“Tornadoes and high winds destroyed or damaged several homes, especially in Wood County,” Director Hudson said. “As Ohioans begin cleaning up from the storm, they will need to make sure to follow the right steps in order to speed up the claims process.”

In Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged residents of communities impacted by tornados and heavy storms to protect themselves from home repair con artists eager to exploit natural disasters for personal profit.

Madigan warned residents with damaged property that home repair scam artists frequently swoop in after tornados and storms to take advantage of people scrambling to make repairs. Madigan noted that these “storm chasers” try to catch people when they are desperate and pressure them into making a quick, often expensive, decision.

“As residents of LaSalle, Livingston, and Kankakee Counties and other surrounding Central Illinois communities face the daunting task of repairing their homes and businesses, it’s critical to be on the lookout for con artists moving into the area to take advantage of people during this very difficult time,” Madigan said.

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