19,000 in Portage have no power; should be back on by Thursday

Most of Ohio Edison’s customers in Kent have their lights back on after the last of Hurricane Ike blew through Ohio Sunday night.

As of yesterday afternoon, 1,100 people still did not have power out of a total of 5,500 who lost power within the city limits Sunday, said Robin Patton, area manager for Ohio Edison in Portage and North Summit Counties.

In all of Portage County, 19,000 customers are still without power, out of 24,000 customers who lost power Sunday.

Patton said all of Ohio Edison’s customers should have their power back by Thursday. The company has all available crews working to remove trees from power lines and repair equipment. First Energy, the corporate umbrella for Ohio Edison, has even called back some of its crews from Texas, where they were helping repair damage from the hurricane.

The power outages forced several Kent schools to cancel yesterday, including Theodore Roosevelt High School and Franklin and Holden elementary schools.

Power has since been restored to Theodore Roosevelt High School and Franklin Elementary School, said Jim Soyars, director of business services for Kent City Schools.

Soyars said the power was still out at Holden Elementary School yesterday afternoon because of a power line down behind the building. If the power is not restored overnight, Holden Elementary School will be closed today.

The Kent Fire Department responded to about 60 calls Sunday night related to the storm. Cpt. Dave Manthey said calls were mostly related to branches and wires down.

“We had a few branches come down on houses, structural damages,” he said.

There were no storm-related injuries or fires, Manthey said.

“Everyone played it pretty safe and stayed indoors,” he said.

Even so, Kent service crews spent yesterday cleaning up, chipping brush and checking storm sewers, said Jack Hogue, central maintenance division manager.

“Actually, our crews are staying overtime to work from 7 a.m. to dark,” he said.

Hogue said city property did not sustain any structural damage – just many trees, large tree limbs, brush and leaves down throughout the city. The high winds, however, damaged some private property structures in Kent.

A city arborist is currently assessing damage done to city trees and should release how many trees the city lost sometime later this week. The completion of clean-up efforts in Kent depends how fast residents place brush and tree limbs curbside for the city to chip, Hogue said. The city does not yet have a cost estimate for the damages caused by the storm.

Further south in Ohio, Steve Brash, spokesman for Duke Energy, said crews are still working to restore power in the Cincinnati area after the region’s largest power outage in recent history.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, 291,700 customers in Hamilton County, 105,865 customers in Butler County, 56,426 customers in Clermont County and 50,354 customers in Warren County in the surrounding Cincinnati area were still without power, according to Duke Energy customer outage data.

Brash said he anticipates power will not be restored to all customers until sometime this weekend. The storm affected more than 160 of the major district circuits.

“We’re in the process now of assessing the outages and identifying the work that needs to be done,” he said, adding that Duke Energy is bringing more crews to the Cincinnati area from North Carolina to help restore power to the region.

Contact public affairs reporters Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected] and Jackie Valley at [email protected][email protected]