Tornado rips through News Athens

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NEW ATHENS—The fallout and cleanup continued well into this week from last Thursday’s storm, where at least two tornadoes reportedly touched down with video evidence of at least one. The following day’s cleanup resembled an occupation with nearly two dozen J.F. Electric trucks, a company contracted by AEP Ohio, taking up residence along Ohio 9 and State Route 151. Power was finally restored last Friday at approximately 3 p.m., much sooner than was anticipated. Downed trees, limbs, and debris were seen everywhere in New Athens, with the Franklin Museum seeing damage to its surrounding grounds. No injuries were reported, but some homes saw significant damage where porches were torn from their homes, and at least one house lost most of its roof.

“We were lucky,” John Ledger said the following day. The house, though, was not. It looked to be in the tornado’s direct path, and the house took a hit as the twister continued past and down beyond the yard. Deb Ledger said the word “now” at the very moment she received the warning from the National Weather Service to take shelter, and her porch was taken out. And just as others have described the freight train sounds, so did Deb as they ran to the other side of the house. Fortunately, they were not injured.

Jason Frazier of the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh stated that the makings of the tornado began in Carroll County before heading to Harrison, where it was categorized as an EF-2. He said the last recorded tornado to touch ground in Harrison County was back in 2000, also an EF-2 as it tore through Bowerston. The strongest recorded tornado in the county was near Deersville back in 1969. According to Frazier, there were also two others with weaker ratings just north of Carrollton in 2019. The weather service called the time the tornado spent on the ground “substantial,” which amounted to 10 minutes, from 4:50 p.m. to 5 p.m. Peak winds reached 115-120 miles per hour, and the length of the path lasted 2.7 miles. The National Weather Service said it was significant considering the hilly area.

ODOT’s J.D. Marlatt said he received an emergency call around 5:20 p.m. Thursday from the sheriff’s office reporting a tornado touching down. Seven crews were sent in to clear debris from the roads to keep them open. Emergency Management Agency director Eric Wilson also combed the area for damage assessment with FEMA’s own search since insurance coverage issues will need to be assessed. Wilson said at least 16 private residences were affected. He said all information will be tabulated and sent to Columbus, but a dollar amount has not yet been verified. Anyone with storm damage can contact the Harrison County EMA office at 740-942-3900.

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