For Gary Baker and his family, a camping outing in Williams County was cut short by the storm systems that spawned the tornadoes that struck Ohio and Michigan.
They raced home to Williston from a Nettle Lake campground just minutes ahead of the storm.
“The sky looked really ominous behind us,” he said. “We got on the turnpike and we were only ahead of it by 10 minutes or so.”
Only five minutes passed after they pulled into their Toledo Street home and the emergency sirens sounded, he said.
The storm flooded Baker’s yard but his home didn’t suffer structural damage.
“We were lucky,” he said. “There was quite a bit of damage in Ottawa County.”
A team of meteorologists from the National Weather Service conducted an extensive survey of the tornado’s path in Wood and Ottawa counties and determined it reached an intensity of 4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, indicating wind speeds reached 170-175 miles per hour.
The most extensive damage occurred in two spots: at State Route 795 near Lake High School and on the northwest side of the Village of Millbury.
Damage at and near the high school was rated a “strong EF3” and damage in the village received an EF4 rating due to the extreme damage to structures, the Weather Service said.
The tornado path stretched eight to 10 miles and was 300-400 yards wide.
The Weather Service said a funnel touched down east of Perrysburg near the Ohio Turnpike and Oregon Road at 11:20 p.m. and moved across the southern portion of the Moline area of Lake Township. It then moved across the northwest portion of Millbury before entering Ottawa County along Trowbridge Road.
It lifted at 11:35 p.m. just west of the Village of Clay Center.
The Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency located an outreach center near the intersection of Reiman and Trowbridge roads.
According to the Ottawa County EMA, the tornado left 11 homes destroyed, 14 with major structural damage, seven with minor damage, and 14 others were affected.
A lost and found clearing house will be maintained at the Genoa High School athletic complex on an as-needed basis. The complex is open from 7-10 a.m. and 6-8:30 p.m. and is being staffed by volunteer employees of the school district.
Allen Township residents are being advised to place storm-related debris near the edge of the road. Township and county crews will pick up the debris and take it to a collection site at Allen Elementary School. Residents are asked to not take material to the site.
The waste should be separated: scrap metal; unpainted wood; brick and concrete; tree limbs and brush, and drywall, roofing materials, insulation, and treated or painted wood.
For information call the EMA office in Port Clinton: (419) 734-6900.
Governor Ted Strickland Wednesday said he sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting a major disaster declaration for Wood, Lucas, and Fulton counties which received damage from severe tornados and high winds.
Gov. Strickland’s request is based on damage assessments performed by joint teams of local officials, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If the request is approved, disaster assistance loans and grants would be available to those eligible and governmental entities for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and public infrastructure repairs.