Storms, heat keep officials scrambling
It was a triple whammy: A savage storm June 29 caused widespread power outages throughout Madison Township. Sweltering summer heat added to the unpleasantness when a second storm, with not as much punch but considered dangerous in its own right, pummeled the area in the early evening of July 1.
It all left Madison Township officials scrambling to ensure the safety of residents in an area that was especially hit hard and prompted the township to open a cooling center at its Community Center for those without power.
"We have been busy. From last Friday (June 29) through yesterday (July 4), we responded to 180 alarms," Madison Township Fire Chief Robert Bates said. "To put that in context, in May we had 488 alarms for the whole month. That gives you a sense of how busy we were."
Bates said the damages were bad enough in terms of downed trees and power lines, but with temperatures pushing triple digits, additional issues occurred.
"We had a number of heat-related EMS runs with folks not doing too well, and we had some heat-related issues after the (Groveport Fourth of July) parade, though nothing super major," he said.
About a dozen township residents took advantage of the Community Center's temporary cooling-off quarters on July 2 and 3, Township Administrator Susan Brobst said.
"They would stay for two to three hours apiece to cool off and charge their cell phones," she said. "We did not lose power at the (township's) complex, but Station 182 did and they were on backing generators for a while."
Bates said Station 182 regained power June 30, however, the high winds damaged the roof of the fire station's safety training house.
"The high winds blew quite a few shingles off. We're getting bids and estimates right now and the insurance adjuster will take a look at it," he said.
Brobst said Bachman Road remains closed because a huge tree fell across it. The old-growth tree is so big, the township will have to hire an outside contractor to remove it, she said.
"The tree went down across the road and pulled down the electric lines with it. We're going to have a company come in to get that tree out of the way," she said.
Bachman is a dead-end road; however, Cruiser Glen Farms, an equestrian center, and several residences, are located on the road. A makeshift detour route has been carved through a cornfield to accommodate local traffic.
Bates said he estimated the storm caused 60 percent to 70 percent of the township to lose power.
"Some areas in the southern part of the township were out from Friday until Tuesday morning, but (as of July 5) there are probably still some pockets in the northern part of the township still without power," he said. "Groveport was on again, off again. For the most part, it had the power back on Sunday but then the storm blew through Sunday night and took it out again."
Groveport city officials opted to curtail much of the July Fourth celebration in light of the heat and power outages.
Bates said the township was fortunate not to have any fires, especially with power lines down.
"There are still some straggler power lines down. I saw some (July 4) in the southern part of the township," he said.
Township Trustee Gary McDonald said Blacklick Estates was hit hard by the storms.
"It was bad over here. Some areas had power, some didn't," he said.
He said the township departments coordinated efforts to make sure residents were safe. Trustees held an emergency meeting July1 and put together a disaster plan, he said.
"That's where we came up with the idea of using the Community Center as a cooling-off center. On Monday, the police, fire and road crews went door-to-door and must have passed out 1,000 fliers about it," McDonald said. "On Tuesday, we checked on residents that didn't have power. There are a lot of senior citizens in this community and we tried to get word out to them as soon as possible."
McDonald said he was impressed with the community response in the wake of the storms.
"It was neighbors helping neighbors. This community really pulled together as far as this crisis."