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Tallmadge dries out after severe rainstorm

Worst storm in 30 years, officials say

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published: July 11, 2013 4:59 PM
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Tallmadge -- After what one city official said is the most rain that has fallen in Tallmadge in the past 30 years, the city is still drying out and dealing with a powerful storm's aftermath.

The storm that spanned northern Ohio during rush hour July 10 prompted the National Weather Service in Cleveland to first issue a severe thunderstorm warning for Summit County and later upgrade it to a tornado warning.

"We think we had about 5 inches [of rain] in about an hour-and-a-half," said Mayor Dave Kline. "So, we had a lot of crews out, police and fire, and I was helping to direct traffic in different locations" along the Circle.

East and West avenues near the Circle were closed to traffic due to flooding. Kline said traffic was congested on some of the spoke roads, including part of Northwest Avenue where vehicles were driving slow. He described the scene as "gridlock" as officials tried to direct vehicles to alternate routes.

"It was very labor intensive, manpower-wise, to try to get all of that done," Fire Chief Patrick Gaffney said.

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"I've never seen that much water in my 30-some years [with the city] This storm was probably the worst I've seen as far as floating cars and road closures and damage," he added.

While Gaffney directed traffic on East Avenue, he saw two cars floating in the flooded roadway. The occupants exited, and no injuries were reported.

Police Lt. Ron Williams said there were unconfirmed reports of floodwaters reaching anywhere between 2 to 4 feet.

"Many streets in Tallmadge had to be closed until the high water was able to drain," he said. "The Tallmadge Circle had to be closed twice by police and fire units because the level of water made it impassable."

Other roads that were closed or were impassable were Southwest Avenue, Northwest Avenue, North Thomas Road, East Howe Road and Community Road. All roads were re-opened with an hour.

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Ohio Edison Spokesman Ray Martinez said the storm knocked out power to about 70,000 customers throughout its service area in northern Ohio, and as of noon July 11, 60,000 of those customers had power.

In Summit County, 86 customers were without power, one of whom was in the area of West Avenue and Carmen Road in Tallmadge. The number of customers in Tallmadge who reported loss of power was unavailable, Martinez said.

It's possible more people will experience power outages in the days after the storm as damaged tree branches fall onto power lines, according to Martinez.

"A lot of times we think we're done, and the next thing we know is we get a call [that] a [tree] limb was hung up, and it finally came down," he said.

Gaffney said Tallmadge Fire Department's first storm-related calls -- alarms set off by thunder and lightening and water seeping into smoke detectors -- came in around 4 p.m.

The Fire Department called in more workers to handle a weather-related car accident on Southwest Avenue at Wright Road around 6 p.m. The airbags deployed, trapping two people in one of the vehicles. One occupant was transported to the trauma unit at Summa/Akron City Hospital, and the other went to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Gaffney didn't have information about their injuries or conditions.

Kline said by 6:30 or 7 p.m. the storm had mostly blown through the city, but the next day, city workers were still working with residents with flooded basements. The city received about 10 reports of basement floodings, all of which were in the northwest quadrant of the city, as of around noon July 11.

The American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties opened a shelter at 7 p.m. the night of the storm for those who evacuated their homes because of flooding. The shelter, which will provide emergency food and housing until people can return to their homes or find alternate accommodations, is located at the Red Cross' facility at 501 W. Market St. in Akron.

Email: hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9428

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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