Storm Cuts Power, Fells Trees, Disrupts Transit In Northeast Ohio

A fallen tree on a street corner, blocked off by cones and caution tape.
A felled tree on N/S Park Blvd and N. Woodland by the Shaker Nature Center. [Kevin Anderson / Ideastream Public Media]

Storms tore through Northeast Ohio Wednesday night, leaving many residents with downed trees and no power. Crews are still working on repairs in and around Cleveland.

Winds as high as 66 mph were measured near Oregon, Ohio, in Lucas County, according to the National Weather Service Cleveland. There were estimated wind gusts as high as 80 mph near Avon Lake and Sheffield Lake, the NWS said.

The storm impacted the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s railway service into Wednesday afternoon after high winds felled a tree near the Puritas Station on Cleveland’s West Side. The tree damaged the overhead power system and fiberoptic cable system, said Kristie Cox, an RTA spokesperson.

The overhead power system was restored earlier in the day, she said, but the fiberoptic system still needed repairs.

“Without this communication system, we have no signaling system and are unable to run our trains,” Cox said.

Repairs to the system began at 1:30 p.m. Buses are operating in place of trains between Cleveland Hopkins Internatinonal Airport and Tower City. RTA hopes to have normal service back by evening rush hour Thursday, but Cox said residents should keep an eye out for updates.

“Communications will be pumped out through our social channels, through our transit app, as well as staff onsite at various locations to let people know what’s going on,” Cox said.

Fallen trees with split trunks in a backyard. The wood is still damp from rain.

The storm took down multiple trees in Pam Allen's backyard Wednesday evening. [Pam Allen]

From inside her home, Lakewood resident Pam Allen watched the storm coming in. She said when it finally hit, it was worse than she expected.

“I came in, and within two minutes, it was so loud. I went to look out the back window and the trees were bent like a cartoon or something,” Allen said. “I screamed. I thought something was going to hit the house.”

When the storm cleared, she said, the extent of the damage surprised her. Allen never lost power, but the storm felled several large trees in her yard.

“When I look out my back window, you can’t tell I have a backyard because there’s so much down,” Allen said. “There’s just huge trees that came out from the roots.”

Allen has contacted her insurance company and expects construction equipment will be needed to remove the trees and restore her yard. But she said she thinks she’ll be low on their list of priorities, because the yard is still safe to move around in and her home is unaffected.

“It was just kind of miraculous that everything fell kind of fell into open space,” Allen said. “It’s a huge mess and it was scary, but there’s no structural damage.”

Roughly 27,000 FirstEnergy customers were still affected by the outage as of 3:45 p.m. Thursday. Additional thunderstorms and high winds are expected in the Cleveland area Thursday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

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