By Brett Milam
A tornado tore through Clermont County in the early hours of March 1, leaving thousands without power and property damage throughout the county, totaling more than $1 million.
According to the National Weather Service, the tornado, an EF1, touched down at 3:38 a.m., near Locust Corner Road, the site of some of the worst destruction.
At 3:47 a.m., the tornado was over, having traveled 6.4 miles at 110 mph, with a width of 150 yards.
The reported EF1 tornado is considered a “moderate” tornado by the Enhanced Fujita Scale, used to measure tornadoes. Tornadoes go all the way up to EF5, which is 200 mph and “incredible” damage.
No deaths or injuries were reported because of the tornado.
“The first sign of tornadic damage was observed on Locust Corner Road in Pierce Township near the Pierce Township Nature Area where several trees were snapped,” the NWS said in its summary report. “A power pole was also snapped on the corner of Locust Corner Road and Wagner Road.”
More trees were snapped and branches were downed near the Pierce Township Park, with several evergreen trees also uprooted.
Tree damage was more significant at the intersection of Lewis Road and Locust Lake Road, the NWS said.
“Structural damage was also observed at the 1300 block of Locust Lake Road,” the NWS said. “The most significant damage occurred to a home which had its roof completely lifted off and displaced into the backyard.”
Other homes also had damage, with shingles ripped off and “several instances of siding partially or completely removed from multiple sides of several structures,” the NWS said. A tree also fell on a home causing roof damage.
Sporadic damage continued on Maple Avenue and South Klein Avenue and east toward Amelia Park Drive and Mount Holly Road.
Storm damages exceed $1 million
County officials from the Building Department said six structures were destroyed from the tornado and strong winds, including one in Franklin Township, one in Tate Township and four in the village of Chilo.
Most of those structures were mobile homes, according to a county news release. Other buildings affected were commercial and agricultural buildings.
Pierce Township also had four structures with major damage and 17 with minor damage. Dozens of tombstones were also knocked down at the Pierce Township Cemetery.
“Community members, thanks so much for your concern about the Township Cemetery, but please do not attempt to fix the monuments,” Pierce Township said on its Facebook page. “Our Service Department will be getting an estimate to fix them as soon as possible. Also, if you need to make a claim on a monument, please contact our office.”
No word is yet available on damage estimates.
The village of Amelia had two structures with major damage and one with minor damage.
Overall, 14 structures had major damage, with overall 89 structures affected in some capacity.
The most dollar lost was in Pierce Township, with its structure damage cost estimated at $495,700 and the village of Chilo’s structure lost estimated at $214,550.
Total building value throughout the county was $8,272,800, with overall losses estimated at $1,006,330.
Much of the damage in the village of Chilo and elsewhere came from the second wave of storms that brought 70 mph winds that knocked over trees and power lines. Three mobile homes were flipped in Chilo.
The Clermont Park District’s Chilo Lock 34 Park had seven-to-eight buildings damaged and numerous trees snapped or uprooted, according to the release. The district estimates damages at $150,000.
Outages affected thousands of county residents
Duke Energy was also busy the days following the storms trying to restore power to the area. The Greater Cincinnati area had a peak of 45,861 outages, Sally Thelen, communications manager of Duke, said in a news release.
“Our crews are working to remove downed trees, replace broken power poles, restring power lines and restore power,” Howard Fowler, Duke Energy’s storm director, said at the time in the release. “We’ve made significant progress, and we appreciate our customers’ patience and support as we continue to work as quickly and safely as possible.”
Clermont and Boone counties were the hardest hit, Thelen said, with infrastructure damage making repair work harder. At the peak, more than 5,000 customers in Clermont were affected.
“Ongoing wind gusts exceeding 35 mph are hampering restoration efforts in some areas, as high winds make it unsafe for our line technicians to extend the buckets on their service trucks,” Fowler said.
Clermont customers wouldn’t see power restored until the following day on March 2 at 11:45 p.m. Even though 95 percent of customers in the Greater Cincinnati area had power restored by 10 p.m., some outages continued in Clermont, Brown and Hamilton counties through to 9 p.m. on March 3.
Storm clean up days were held on March 4 and 5 on Lewis Road, where residents of Pierce Township and the village of Amelia could drop off household debris.
For those affected by the storm, the Ohio Department of Insurance has a Severe Weather and Disaster Preparation and Recovery Toolkit available here: http://www.insurance.ohio.gov/Consumer/Pages/SevereStormRecoveryToolkit.aspx.