Branches fly in tree city

City, campus wrecked by Ike remnants’ high winds; thousands left without power

Strong winds from the remnants of Hurricane Ike crossed the Northeast Ohio area last night, knocking out power lines and downing trees.

Early yesterday evening at about 6:30 p.m., about 5,500 people lost power in Kent out of a total of 24,000 in Portage County, said Robin Patton, area manager for Ohio Edison in Portage and North Summit Counties.

“It’s the high winds that are bringing down wires,” Patton said.

The company is still assessing the extent of the damage, she said, and some customers may not have their power back online until tomorrow.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Patton said.

Fallen power lines and tree limbs obstructed areas of the city while buildings on campus sustained broken and cracked windows.

Freshman astrophysics major Craig Bell said he was outside of Lake Hall when some of the open windows broke. He said the fierce wind swung windows back and forth.

“Basically, the window just slammed into another window and shattered,” Bell said.

At Olson Hall, sophomore exploratory major Seth Kauderer said he knew of about six or seven broken windows and some still cracked while he stood outside.

Eric and Kathy Halverson heard a loud crack outside their home on South Lincoln Street. With their house surrounded by 52 trees, the couple assumed the wind, which was predicted to be about 50 mph, was causing damage to their home.

“There was a loud crack,” Eric Halverson said. “But I looked out and didn’t see anything.”

The crack came from a tree on Valleyview. A large limb from a tree neighboring Dave and Debbie Reusser’s home at 515 Valleyview Drive had broken off and fallen in the middle of the street.

“We started to (make the emergency call) and the electricity popped off,” Dave Reusser said.

With power lines hanging off the tree branch and down on the street, Kent firefighters blocked off the street within minutes of the call. A firefighter was telling a group of on lookers to stay away from the area, calling the street “fire city.”

The entire area surrounding Valleyview Drive and Lincoln Street saw several roads closed off. Even with power lines down, the Reussers and Haleversons never lost power for as long a period of time as Main Street had earlier in the evening.

Contact public affairs reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].

Contact public affairs reporter Brock Harrington at [email protected].

Contact safety reporter Kelly Byer at [email protected].