NEW PHILADELPHIA — Commissioners have declared a state of emergency in Tuscarawas County as the result of severe weather in the area last week.
The board directed Alex McCarthy, head of the Tuscarawas County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency to request state and federal assistance to help homeowners and local governments with cleanup.
McCarthy, meeting with commissioners on Wednesday, said the county was hit by a one-two-three punch.
A round of severe storms moved through the area early in the morning of June 14. That was followed by a heat wave where the heat index was above 100 degrees, while many residents were without power. Then a third storm struck the area on June 16.
What hit the area was a derecho, he said.
A derecho is a line of intense, widespread, and fast-moving windstorms and sometimes thunderstorms that moves across a great distance and is characterized by damaging winds.
"The weather setup that we had last week was highly unusual for Ohio," McCarthy said. "To have a derecho like we did, that's about a 1-in-10-year event to begin with. The amount of instability that we had across the state — instability being the ability for thunderstorms to form basically — was very, very high. And the way that the weather systems were positioned just kind of made it pretty easy for one storm to go after another without stealing energy from the next one."
The June 14 storms impacted an area from Bucks Township in the western edge of the county all the way to the Harrison County line in the east. The Stone Creek, Gnadenhutten and Newport areas were the hardest hit. In some areas, winds in excess of 100 mph toppled trees.
"We did not see a whole lot of direct structural damage to properties from winds alone," McCarthy said. He noted that a barn in Clay Township was blown off its foundation.
The June 16 storm caused the greatest damage in the Gilmore area of southern Tuscarawas County.
Commissioner Al Landis said the county has received some calls about property damage, including a tree farm where the loss is estimated at between $100,000 and $200,000. The office of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, has been contacted for assistance.
A homeowner in the Stone Creek area reported that the cost of cleanup from downed trees will be around $30,000, Landis said.
McCarthy said he has been meeting with township trustees and village officials for assistance in such things as debris management.
The EMA office has also sent damage assessment forms from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to local officials. The forms must be returned by June 30.
In addition, McCarthy's office is coordinating with local faith-based and volunteer groups to see who can come in to help property owners with tree removal.
Anyone with property damage from the storms is urged to contact the Tuscarawas County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency at 330-308-6670.
This article originally appeared on The Times-Reporter: Area storm damage leads to state of emergency declaration