Norwalk residents clean up after brutal winds rip trees in half

Century trees and homes only victims

NORWALK, OHIO - Bright blue skies mixed with humidity the consistency of soup had residents in the Huron County seat sweating out a tough day of clean-up. High winds snapped off helpless branches from trees during Monday night's storm in almost every downtown Norwalk yard.

Hundreds of Norwalk homeowners had sawdust from chainsaws clinging to their wet faces as they made their way to tree lawns already stacked high with tree debris by noon.

Norwalk city crews worked their way through each downtown side street with a grinding industrial chipper attached to their red dump truck. Chainsaws buzzed in harmony in most yards as neighbors helped each other.

Glen Youngblood and Denny Haynes were two of those sawdust-faced helpers in the front yard of their friend, Neil Creary, on East Main Street. He had two huge maple trees that had been snapped in half after 200 years of providing shade in front of his red brick 1863-built home.

"I'm a friend, known each other for years. He's helped me clean up my yard a couple times, so... pay back, you know," said Youngblood.

Creary's tough century home goes back to Civil War days.

"It's double-bricked. It took a hit, but only the chimney was damaged," said Creary. "We can repair it. Nobody got hurt, can't ask for more."

Power had been out since 3:15 p.m. on Monday, but came back in spots after Ohio Edison's crew made repairs by 9:15 p.m. Most areas had power to their homes on Tuesday, though cable television wires could still be seen ripped off poles, lying in many yards.

One Huron County Emergency Response Team was scouring streets asking residents if they needed help from CERT's crews later in the day. Retired Volunteer George Scheckelhoff worked with his wife on Main Street.

"Amazing that no on was hurt. We're here to see where help is needed and assess the damage. It's extensive on many streets. One woman can't get out of her front door yet," said Scheckelhoff.

For now, most people here are counting their blessings that they weren't hit by an actual tornado, but last night's damage was as close as it gets.

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