GALLIPOLIS — Governor Ted Strickland issued a state declaration of emergency on Monday, but Emergency Management Agency Communications Director Tamara McBride said no serious damage was reported in Gallia County.
The declaration will allow the state greater flexibility in quickly allocating resources from state entities, such as the Ohio National Guard and the Ohio Department of Transportation, out to local communities.
According to Gallia County 9-1-1 Operator Chris Gruber, several downed trees and temporary power outages were reported locally, and those situations have been resolved.
The declaration follows a major wind storm Sunday that resulted in the loss of five lives and led to widespread power outages and damage across the state.
“The state of Ohio has experienced hurricane-level gusts of wind, which is obviously extremely unusual for our state,” Strickland said. “We are staying in very close contact with our communities and doing everything in our power to assist the response and recovery to these extraordinary circumstances. Ohioans are strong and resilient, and I know that our citizens’ first concern will be looking out for each other. And I will make sure that the State of Ohio stands with its people during this difficult time.”
The Ohio Department of Public Safety is coordinating the response on the statewide level through the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. As of Monday morning, there were 1.92 million customers without power across the state.
The state declaration of emergency will allow Ohio greater flexibility of allocating resources to, among other things, help with local roads in need of clearing and to assist utilities in moving crews from around the state and nation to where they need to be to help get power restored as quickly as possible.
Eighty four of Ohio’s 88 counties have reported damages or outages. 450 school districts are closed across the state. Eleven counties have issued county level emergency declarations, 46 roads are closed or restricted and one-third of the traffic signals on the state system are not functioning. In four counties, government offices are fully closed, and in another, they are partially closed.
Strickland urged Ohioans to remember that debris and power outages are causing hazards around the state, particularly in central and southwest Ohio. In particular, downed power lines are exceedingly dangerous.
“In this difficult time, I am asking Ohioans to pull together, look out for each other, check on their neighbors and share resources,” Strickland said. “I have great confidence that the people of our state will work together to help us get through this difficult time.”
AEP Ohio continues to assess the damage within the company’s service territory. At the height of the storm, AEP Ohio estimates that more than 650,000 AEP Ohio customers from western Ohio to the Ohio Valley were without power with approximately 300,000 of them located in central Ohio. This number increased throughout the day on Monday as customers reach the company to report their outages.
AEP Ohio crews are working with contract crews and support from other utilities to help restore power as quickly and as safely as possible. In addition, more than 600 forestry workers are being brought in to help cut trees and remove debris from power lines. The additional resources in both line and forestry will more than double AEP Ohio’s current restoration complement. AEP Ohio appreciates the patience of its customers as it works to clear downed power lines and restore power.
AEP Ohio is working to restore power to all parts of the state, focusing first on emergency services and main-line circuits that serve the largest number of customers. Based on past experiences with these events, the company is estimating service restoration times of up to seven days or longer for certain parts of the state that were the hardest hit. However, the company anticipates making significant progress in its restoration efforts over the next few days.
The State of Ohio Emergency Operations Center offers the following advice for dealing with issues that may arise as a result of a wind storm: