What the hail: Region still recovering from Friday's storms

As another two waves of tornado activity blew through the area Tuesday evening, Erie County residents are still recovering from the wind, rain and hail that pummeled the area Friday.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 12, 2010


As another two waves of tornado activity blew through the area Tuesday evening, Erie County residents are still recovering from the wind, rain and hail that pummeled the area Friday.

Bob Hall, Erie County Emergency Management director, said he could not determine a figure for the weekend's total damage costs, but the most important figure is 0 -- the number of people, to his knowledge, injured by storm-related causes.

"Yes, the storm was severe, and the problem was straight-line wind that was very close to 80 mph, according to the National Weather Service," he said. "There was a lot of damage, and with that volume of wind, we were very fortunate that we did not have any injuries."

Allstate Insurance agent Nancy Hetrick said she took nonstop claim calls from local residents all weekend and about 75 on Saturday alone. On a typical day she said she receives one or two claims.

"They're mostly calls about trees on houses and a few cars with hail damage," she said. "A catastrophe team came in yesterday and handled going through assessments and prioritizing the worst of the claims ... to take care of those first, and put minor problems further down the list."

Bryan Kasper, owner of three Kasper Auto Group lots in Sandusky, said hail damaged virtually all of his 400 inventory cars. The cost: About $1,000 of damage per car for a total approaching $400,000.

"I would say it's relatively minor cosmetic damage to each car, but when you total it up over hundreds of cars, it's hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage," he said Tuesday. "There's a team from my insurance company here now, and they're writing an estimate every seven minutes. They'll be here the rest of the week."

He said Kasper Auto Group's body shop has also been flooded with calls from people seeking repairs on dented cars.

"We have a team of people in from out of town who follow storms, and they'll be fixing cars over the next two weeks," Kasper said. "We've been setting up appointments like crazy."

Hetrick is warning people to stick with reputable local businesses with regards to repairs. She has received several calls from residents who say fake insurance agents are going door-to-door asking for money.

Residents should make temporary repairs to prevent further damage, she said, and call a real agent to assess their claim, instead of trusting the fake agents out of desperation.

"The Sandusky area was hit hard," she said, "but don't do business with someone you aren't aware of. If it's too good to be true, it probably is."

According to Hall, Ohio 101 was hit hardest with hail and wind-related damages, although scattered locations in Sandusky were also struck by hail, downed trees, power outages and flooding.

Tim Smith, whose family operates six local McDonald's restaurants, said all of his stores were extensively damaged and his Ohio 101 location was closed all weekend because of downed power lines and air conditioners dented by hail.

"The damage was unbelievable. Poles were snapped in half, pulled out of the ground, and there were wires from Route 2 to the train tracks," Smith said. "I've never seen anything like it, but the fantastic crew out there from the Margaretta Fire Department and Sheriff's Department organized so well to control the damage, and Ohio Edison restored power in about two days."

Gary Mortus, spokesman for Ohio Edison, said about 10,000 customers experienced power outages during the height of the storm.

He was unsure how much the outages cost Ohio Edison, but said about 100 rotating employees worked all weekend to fix the problem, a significant increase in labor.

He said power was restored to the last customer onOhio 101 at about 7 a.m. Monday.

"This was quite severe for the area that was hit," Mortus said. "We lost 13 poles on 101. That's a lot of damage in a very small area."

Smith said he was surprised when his McDonald's on Ohio 101 was fully operational as of noon Monday thanks to Ohio Edison's timely work.

"There was a lot of damage done along a very narrow path, and a lot of people did a great job putting it back together," Smith said.

"People were doing a lot of work, and they did it in a much shorter time than what I estimated."