CLEVELAND - High winds spinning off the edge of superstorm Sandy took a vicious swipe at northern Ohio on Tuesday, uprooting trees, cutting power to hundreds of thousands, closing schools and flooding parts of major commuter arteries that run along Lake Erie.
Two people were killed in crashes on icy roads in northwest Ohio.
Northeast Ohio took the brunt of the storm. Waves from Lake Erie washed across a low-lying section of Interstate 90 near downtown Cleveland, shutting down the freeway Tuesday morning. Howling winds along the lake peeled off part of the siding at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
At least 250,000 homes and businesses in Ohio -- the majority in the Cleveland area -- were without power at one point. Scattered outages reached down into central and eastern Ohio, with some in the southern part of the state. Utilities said it could be days before it's fully restored.
Authorities were warning residents of the Cleveland area to stay home if possible because of the danger of toppled trees and power lines from the early morning high winds, as well as debris in the road and flooded streets.
Hundreds of schools were closed throughout northern Ohio and the nasty conditions -- including the season's first snowfall in some parts of the state -- led to late starts at schools in central and eastern Ohio. As in much of the storm-affected areas of the East, thousands of flights were canceled at Ohio airports.
The State Highway Patrol said one woman died Tuesday morning after losing control of her car on an ice-covered bridge east of Toledo in Fulton County. Deputies in Putnam County said a 22-year-old man died after hitting a van on an icy road.
The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with 80 mph sustained winds killed at least 40 in the U.S., cut power to at least 8.2 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio, caused scares at two nuclear power plants and stopped the presidential campaign cold.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney went ahead with a scheduled appearance in the Dayton area Tuesday, collecting relief supplies instead of campaigning against President Barack Obama. Obama canceled a trip to Cincinnati for a Wednesday rally. He plans to resume campaigning in Ohio on Friday.
In Cleveland, the 10-minute commute for 61-year-old Richard Ferling to his job at a transmission shop took 30 minutes. He got turned around three times by flooded roads blocked with barricades and many traffic signals out.
"I tell you what -- it's scary," said Ferling, who arrived at work surprised to find the electricity still on but the red awning across the front of the building ripped to shreds. Around the corner, houses were blacked out by outages and numerous trees were down.
Ed Paradise lost power in his floral shop in Parma, a Cleveland suburb, and was working with a flashlight and candles Tuesday morning. His phone also was out, which he expected would cut into the day's business.
Paradise, who lives south of Canton, said his pre-dawn drive to work on Interstate 77 wasn't bad until he hit the Cleveland area.
"That's the when the car started moving a little bit," he said. "You could feel the wind."
Neighborhoods along the Cleveland-Parma corridor of neat bungalows were littered with toppled branches and trees. Firefighters came out to remove a dangling phone line from 29-year-old DeWayne Anders' backyard, and he came to the rescue of an elderly neighbor whose electric garage door opener lacked power.
Some of the most concentrated storm damage appeared to be in neighborhoods closest to Lake Erie.
Glen Griffin, 39, moving renovation supplies into his newly purchased 100-year-old home on the first residential street from the lake, said the aging roof was damaged beyond repair.
"It's an old house with an old roof, and it's just tearing it apart," Griffin said as a neighbor picked up roof shingles off the street.
Associated Press writer Mitch Stacy in Columbus and John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.