Tree crushes car, roof

CORTLAND – Jamie Donahue and family got a rude awakening early Thursday when a massive storm swept through the Mahoning Valley.

“We were sleeping. You hear a ‘kaboom!’ and that was about it,” the Cortland woman said of the tree that crashed through her family’s Gates Street home and totaled her son’s car about 3:30 a.m.

She said she and her husband, Crispin, and her two teenage sons had been sleeping in the second story of the house when the tree in their front yard came crashing down on the roof they had replaced just two years prior. The tree broke six trusses and left a hole in the roof.

“The whole thing went down, it wasn’t just a branch,” she said.

Surveying the damage afterward was when William Sehrader, 17, a senior at Lakeview High School, saw his vehicle that had been crushed from bumper to bumper.

“I was like, ‘Wow, my cars not there anymore,'” he said of the Geo Tracker.

Donahue said she and her family were lucky to have not been injured.

As Thursday afternoon rolled around, her ex-husband and other family members were on hand helping to remove the tree and cutting up its branches, leaving a massive pile of wood in front of the house they’ve called home for the last five years.

The storm was part of a massive system that swept across the Midwest on Wednesday that left tens of thousands of customers without power as commuters dodged fallen branches on roads and backups at intersections where traffic lights were out.

Multiple power outages were reported in neighborhoods mostly south of Youngstown, though Ohio Edison estimated most power would be returned by 3 p.m. Thursday.

“We got kind of lucky, most of the storm had lost its severe events before it got to us,” said meteorologist Don Guthrie of 27 WKBN News.

Guthrie said most damage was to the southwest of the Valley where a couple tornado warnings were issued. In Austintown and Columbiana, small hail was reported along with the deluge of rain and lightening that was heaviest between 3 and 4 a.m.

Guthrie said trees were down in various locations from Mercer to Canfield and Mespotamia. In some areas this resulted in power outages but for the most part other areas of the state had it much worse.

At least 30,000 customers throughout Ohio were without electricity at midday Thursday as crews worked to restore service while rain continued in some areas. Roughly half of those were American Electric Power customers.

Dozens of counties remained under flash flood watches or other flooding advisories as the storm system moved out of Ohio.

Phillip Johnson, part of the team monitoring developments for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, said the extent of the damage and power outages appeared much less severe than that from a series of storms nearly a year ago that knocked out electricity for a million Ohio customers, some of them for up to a week.

Allen Randall, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said this round of storms packed less of a punch in Ohio because the combination of storm ingredients was weaker than the mix that yielded the bad weather last summer. The heat and humidity that fuel storms weren’t as high and the wind gusts generally weren’t as fast, he said. Also, how and when the air mixed didn’t make for as powerful a combination, he said.

“This was, you know, a pretty big event, but it just wasn’t as big as that one,” Randall said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.