Storm rips through Delaware County


A severe thunderstorm rolled through the county Thursday evening causing damage, power outages, downed lines, and the closure of two school districts Friday.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for the county at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, and the storm began at approximately 7:15 p.m. with heavy rain in the county that developed into a severe thunderstorm and later a tornado warning from about 8:24 p.m. until 9:45 p.m. During the storm, winds reached up to 33 miles per hour with up to .28 inches of rain in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

AEP Ohio reported that suspected tornadoes touched down in Delaware County “breaking at least 30 utility poles and toppling six high-voltage transmission towers.” AEP said it expected to find more damage during the day Friday, and more than 500 line, tree, contractor, assessor and support personnel from across the state were working to restore power. AEP added that Delaware, Galena, and Sunbury were the hardest hit areas with approximately 13,400 customers without power at peak.

Delaware County 9-1-1 Director Lauren Yankanin said the county’s 9-1-1 center was still gathering and assessing data from the storm but said that on a typical Thursday night between 9 p.m. and midnight there are on average 35 calls to 9-1-1 for service. Yankanin reported Friday that during the same period on Thursday, there were 175 calls for service.

The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office reported the damage from the storm caused numerous road closures in the county, including several parts of Cheshire Road, Gregory Road, Berlin Station Road, Bunty Station Road, Africa Road, Walnut Road, Piatt Road and Wagner Way.

Delaware County Emergency Management reported Friday afternoon that it’s conducting assessments with local and state officials, and the National Weather Service also plans to survey the area. The agency urged residents not to drive around roadblocks or over downed wires.

The agency also reported the American Red Cross is operating a shelter at the Delaware Community YMCA for those in need of housing or a place of refuge.

The damage and power outages caused by the storm forced Olentangy Local Schools and Big Walnut Local Schools to cancel school on Friday.

On Friday morning, Olentangy Locals Schools issued a severe weather update on its website.

“Last night’s storms severely impacted our entire One Olentangy community, including widespread power outages, road closures, and damage to homes and neighborhoods,” the update said. “The district leadership team assessed the storm’s aftermath overnight and determined it was in the best interest of students, families, and staff to close all schools today, March 15. There was extensive damage at two schools (Berlin Middle and Berlin High School), as well as surrounding school communities.”

As of Friday morning, the district noted the following facilities were without power: Arrowhead Elementary School, Cheshire Elementary School, Johnnycake Corners Elementary School, Berkshire Middle School, Berlin Middle School, Berlin High School, Olentangy High School (partial outage) and the East Transportation Depot.

“Olentangy Schools will continue to monitor conditions throughout the day, and as we continue to assess all schools, facilities, and surrounding neighborhoods, the District will provide additional updates and resources for impacted families, staff, and school communities, as needed,” the update said.

On Friday, the City of Delaware Public Works Department offered storm damage cleanup assistance to residents in the Winterbrooke Place, Braumiller Woods, Belmont Place, all Glen Ross areas on both sides of Cheshire Road, and Cheshire Crossing subdivisions. The city said residents can contact the customer service line at 740-203-1810 to arrange pickup of damaged items such as trampolines, yard furniture, grills and gazebos, which can be set by the curb for collection next week. Additional bagged refuse for residents in the areas mentioned can also be placed next to their tipcarts for collection during their normal refuse days.

For residents throughout the city of Delaware, the city said, “Storm damage yard waste can be placed in yard waste bags and set by the curb for collection next week. Tree limbs and branches should be cut in 4 foot lengths and stacked in the tree lawn.”

The storm also brought the opening night of the Hayes High School production of “Legally Blonde” to a halt as the cast and audience alike took shelter in the halls of the school Thursday evening before the show was eventually cancelled.

“This was certainly not what we wanted for our opening night, however, we had been watching the radar all evening and were not surprised,” said Dr. Dara Gillis, the show’s director. “We had discussed it with students and staff ahead of time and were prepared. When the alarms went off, the transition from performance to evacuation was quite seamless. The students were obviously disappointed and sad. But, they know they have three more performances coming which gives them something to look forward to.”

Tickets for today’s performances can be found at

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

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