After the storm
Gahanna cleaning up, fared well, 'all things considered'
The city of Gahanna was focusing on cleanup efforts July 2 after central Ohio was struck by a June 29 storm packing hurricane-force winds that knocked down power lines and left more than 200,000 Franklin County AEP customers in the dark.
Public-information manager Brian Hoyt said many Gahanna residents lost power, but no infrastructure damage was reported.
"There were tree limbs everywhere," he said. "Many residents lost power, which is a giant inconvenience, but all things considered, Gahanna fared well," he said.
AEP Ohio reported Sunday night (July 1) that power had been restored to more than 221,000 of the 660,000 Ohio customers affected by the catastrophic storms. But another 20,000 customer outages occurred as a result of storms Sunday night.
According to AEP's website, most residents in northeast Columbus will have their electricity restored by midnight Sunday, July 8.
Mifflin Township Assistant Fire Chief Fred Kauser reminds residents to use caution when using candles and open-flame lighting while power is out.
Residents who use generators should use approved and grounded wiring devices and are reminded to turn off the generator while refueling.
"Please be sure that exhaust is directed away from the structure, especially any windows, due to carbon monoxide," he said. "As a reminder, any wires on the ground, a vehicle, a house, etc., should be considered live and should never be touched for any reason. Residents should never hesitate to call the fire department when this occurs."
Kauser said residents without power also should plan for when the power returns.
"Be sure that electric appliances are turned off, especially to the stove, in case electric is restored when no one is home," he said. "Again, residents should not hesitate to contact the fire department for any concerns they may have about electrical equipment and wires or to check on the well-being of an elderly resident."
The Mifflin Township Fire Department's non-emergency number is 614-536-0058. Residents should call 911 in case of emergency. The emergency number for cellphone users is 614-471-4444.
Mifflin Fire Chief Tim Taylor met with township trustees, Gahanna Mayor Becky Stinchcomb, Gahanna Police Chief Dennis Murphy and city emergency operations director James Williams within 30 minutes after the storm.
While firefighters and police were responding to numerous calls, planning was under way to prepare for large-scale and long-term power outages.
Gahanna opened a "cooling center" at the Gahanna Senior Center, 480 Rocky Fork Blvd., providing residents with a place to escape the extreme heat. The center also provided a place to charge electronic devices. Tap water was available, as well.
The cooling center was open from 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and Hoyt said it likely would remain available as long as needed. See gahanna.gov for updates. For continuous, real-time information, residents can also check online at Facebook.com/CityofGahanna and Twitter.com/CityofGahanna, as well as ThisWeekNEWS.com.
Hoyt said the city's biggest concern is for residents to look out for their neighbors. If anyone knows of any neighbors with special needs, they should call the non-emergency line at 614-342-4240.
Kauser said firefighters were out all day June 30, assisting residents and city workers in removing trees and large limbs from structures and roadways when not responding to emergencies.
"The widespread power outages coupled with the heat have increased the demand for paramedic services, as well, due to heat-related illnesses, auto accidents and challenges with home medical equipment that requires electricity," he said.
As of July 1, city service director Dottie Franey said, Gahanna still had two traffic signals out -- one at Morse Road and Underwood Farms and the other at Hamilton Road at the Vistas.
Motorists who approach a disabled traffic signal should treat it as a four-way stop.
Franey said Gahanna's service and parks departments would work together to clear rights of way of storm debris.
"We will have at least two crews traveling through the streets with trucks to haul the large items and chippers to chip the small branches," she said. "Yard-waste debris beyond the sidewalk (on private property) can be prepared properly for Rumpke to pick up at the curb on Mondays."
Private trees and yard waste also may be taken to the Gahanna Service Complex at 152 Oklahoma Ave. from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and placed in the "Yard Waste Only" Dumpster.