Oregon City Administrator Mike Beazley is reviewing why sirens were not sounded by the time a tornado tore through the city on Nov. 18, causing property damage.
“This was a very unusual storm traveling about 75 mph,” Beazley said at a council meeting on Nov. 25. “We had about six minutes from the time the National Weather Service sounded the alarm, and it was on us.”
The tornado was one of three that struck the area. The first twister started in Perrysburg at about 5:35 p.m., cut a 12 mile path into Oregon, where it ended at about 5:55 p.m. The width of the EF2 tornado was 150-200 yards and had an estimated maximum wind of between 120-125 mph.
Clifford Smith, of Starr Avenue, said at the council meeting that there should have been enough time for the Emergency Management Agency to set off the sirens in Oregon.
“We were in our living room, and the television stations were saying it’s heading to Toledo, and it’s heading for Oregon. We had five minutes to go in Oregon. If we hadn’t seen that on the television, we wouldn’t have been in the basement,” said Smith. “We lost trees, our neighbor lost siding on his house. We were close to Wynn Road. It could have moved over a half mile, and it could have been a disaster. We hear the sirens the first Friday of the month. Why don’t we hear them when it’s necessary.”
“That’s something we are discussing with the Emergency Management Agency,” said Beazley. “I think that storm was passed before they got that done. I don’t think there’s a good excuse for it.”
“We could have been notified 15 to 20 minutes ahead of time,” said Smith. “We should have heard it.”
“We agree,” said Beazley.
He also said an automated phone system to warn all residents of a tornado takes about 20 minutes.
“That’s why we ended up with a delay on that. We do have a very fast text message system that goes out instantly. Not as many seniors, especially, use text messages,” said Beazley.
“We met with the Emergency Management Agency to make sure these calls get though in a safe way that protects and gives you adequate warning,” he said.
Usually, the calls are made with time to spare, causing some to not take the warnings seriously, said Beazley.
“When a storm enters Lucas County, maybe in Providence Township or Waterville, tornado sirens will be sounding off. People get calls here and think there’s plenty of time. People are upset because it’s still sunny and nice here and everyone thinks it’s an overreaction. This storm was the opposite. We had just a few minutes from the time the warnings sounded because of what was going on in Wood County and [the tornado] was through Oregon by the time all the calls could get through. The text messages go out instantly. If you can, we urge you to sign up for it. If you’re not a text message user, that won’t help you.”
Beazley also gave an update on the storm damage in the city.
“Nobody was injured, though there was a lot of damage to property and it shook a lot of people up in a serious way,” he said.
“I want to thank our police and fire first responders and our Streets Department. We just felt people got out there and did a good job taking care of the situation right away. They were out and doing their jobs.”
As of 8 p.m. on Nov. 18, Toledo Edison reported approximately 1,850 customers in Lucas County without power. In Oregon, power was out for 89 customers compared to 1,494 in Toledo, 108 in Sylvania, 104 in Sylvania Township, 47 in Monclova Township, and 16 in Waterville Township.
Toledo Edison had additional crews from its sister companies of Cleveland Electric Illuminating and Ohio Edison to assist in the restoration of power. Toledo Edison estimated it would have power restored to all customers in Lucas County by Nov. 19.
The Lucas County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) conducted a preliminary damage assessment in an area roughly bound by Coy Road to the West, Pickle Road to the south, Stadium Road to the east, and Corduroy Road to the north. The assessment showed:
• Damage to the roof and siding of one of the city’s municipal garages located at 5330 Seaman Road;
• Twenty-three single family residential structures were impacted by the tornado: One was destroyed completely (Total loss; structure compromised; not repairable); seven major (Substantial structural damage to walls, roof, etc.), two minor (One wall damaged; section of roof missing or damaged; repairable); and 13 affected (Some shingle, siding, and window damage; repairable). Three businesses were impacted by the storm, including major damage to Sundance Kid Drive In Theater, minor damage to the medical offices of Dr. Kumar, and one affected to Powell Vision. St. Michaels Byzantine Catholic Church was also affected.
Considerable property damage, such as torn off roofs, missing siding, a house shifting off a foundation, windows blown out, holes in siding caused by debris, was reported in the 500 and 600 blocks of Lallendorf Road, 3000 and 4000 blocks of Navarre Avenue, 600 block of Anmarie Court, 5000 block of Giverny Road, two residences on Wynn Road, the 50000 block of Seaman Road, the 400 block of Sky Way Drive, and a residence on Lawai Road.
Apparently, most if not all impacted structures have insurance, according to Beazley.
Minor amounts of damage from the storm system consisted of down power lines, debris and power loss.
The American Red Cross established a regional shelter for individuals and families displaced by the tornado at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18 at Cedar Creek Church Perrysburg Campus, in Lime City Road in Perrysburg. The Red Cross was expected to operate the shelter until all power is restored to the area.
Seaman Road between Wynn Road and Stadium Road remained closed as of last Monday due to debris and downed power lines.