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Twister roars through town

BY SUSAN KIM | Ashland, OH | August 8, 2000

Emergency crews

from throughout the state were clearing downed trees and power lines so that

damage assessments could be made.

There was significant residential damage, reported Ashland County

Emergency Management Director Edward Carnicom, adding that final

numbers of homes would be available once assessment teams could get to

some of the hardest-hit sections of town.

"Basically it hit two streets pretty hard, and there were about 50 houses on each of those streets," said

Carnicom. Three minor injuries were reported. The tornado, classified as an F1 in strength, cut a three-

mile long, 600-yard wide path that tore directly through the town's business district along Main Street.

That area was still closed on Tuesday afternoon, with torn roofing and broken glass littering the area.

That section of town won't open for another two or three days, said Lt. Larry Goon from the Ashland

County Sheriff's Department.

"A lot of downtown businesses didn't fare well," added Barb Queer, Ashland County human resource

administrator. "And a lot of residential properties sustained damage, too."

Local churches, schools, and colleges are coordinating residents who are volunteering to clean up debris,

said Carnicom. "There are just people everywhere helping other people," he said. "That's just been the

amazing part of it."

The American Red Cross is assisting with damage assessments, he added.

"We're still cleaning up," said Goon. "There were hundreds of trees down in this town. The good thing is

that most people had insurance."

The same storm system brought heavy rainfall, high wind, and dangerous lightning especially in

northern Ohio, where there were reports of storm damage throughout the region.

"It was just some pretty ugly weather," summed up Dick Kimmins, public information officer for the

Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

Though most Ohio residents had power restored by Tuesday, some 16,000 people in the Washington,

DC area were without power as a result of severe thunderstorms that moved through the mid-Atlantic

area on Monday evening. The hot, humid weather - with head indices above 100 degrees - prompted

forecasters warn people without air conditioning to seek public facilities that have it or to use fans and

limit their outdoor exertion.

One death was attributed to those storms. A man died when lightning struck a tree near him.

Many in Minnesota also spent a sleepless Monday night after a tornado touched down in the town of

Lakefield. The storm, which knocked over several mobile homes, did cause a major gas leak, forcing

scores of families to be evacuated, even as more tornado warnings were issued.

The same storm brought heavy rain and strong winds to the Twin Cities, knocking out power to some

5,000 people.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief and Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) are among the

national groups working in Minnesota with three interfaith groups to respond to recent flooding and a

tornado that hit Granite Falls July 25. That twister killed one person, injured 15 others, destroyed some

80 houses, and damaged another 120 homes.

Church World Service (CWS) is also working in Granite Falls in coordination with interfaith leaders,

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Red Cross, and state officials.

CWS disaster resource consultants (DRCs) Perri Graham and Forrest Hoppe were on-site in Granite

Falls to help facilitate the interfaith committee's organization. They shared information on the sequence

of delivering recovery-related services, and offered an overview of the recovery process.

LDR found a case manager with experience working in the severe floods of 1997 who was hired by the

interfaith group. LDR also sent a $10,000 emergency grant shortly after the tornado struck. Presbyterian

Disaster Assistance also rushed $10,000 from a One Great Hour of Sharing offering to aid tornado


Granite Falls, located about two hours due west of Minneapolis, is a small town with a population of

3,200. The tornado is the second disaster to hit the community in recent years. Flooding of the

Minnesota River in 1997 damaged about 100 homes.

Spring and summer storms hit a wide area of the Midwest this season, but Minnesota seems to have

been particularly hard hit. In addition to the Granite Falls tornado, three areas of Minnesota had floods

this summer, including the Red River Valley in Minnesota and North Dakota -- affecting Moorhead, MN

and Fargo, ND -- as well as both Austin and Eagan, MN.

Currently four separate disaster declarations are in effect for 16 counties and the White Earth Indian

Reservation in Minnesota.

Earlier this week, damaging storms also hit Wisconsin. Mennonite Disaster Services sent volunteer

teams to that state to assist with damage repairs and debris cleanup from this latest spate of storms, as

well as earlier severe storms that hit in May and June. Six southeastern counties in Wisconsin received a

Presidential disaster declaration July 10. CWS DRCs Alfred and Winifred Tillema have been working to

develop a faith-based community response to the flooded areas as assessments continue there.

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