A line of thunderstorms that rolled through the Valley Wednesday left a path of destruction in its wake.
Reports of hail, downed trees, lightning, strong winds and damaged buildings were reported throughout the night. One of the hardest hit areas was in northern Trumbull County.
The first of the storms hit the Hartford area between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Strong winds and heavy rain rocked the center of Hartford Township at the circle where Route 7 meets Route 305. A giant pine tree uprooted and came to rest on top of the Brookfield Fire District station.
“It took off the top of the siren. Blew this tree down, took the wires out,” said Brookfield Assistant Fire Chief Tim Kuhn. “There used to be flagpole right here on the corner, it completely took it out, had the one bay completely blocked off.”
Trumbull County Skywarn coordinator Gale Wells rushed up from Warren to report the damage and time of the storm to the National Weather Service in Cleveland.
“I couldn’t believe it had fallen, actually hit the fire department. I was a little surprised with that,” said Wells. “It’s 97 feet long, and that’s basically what they want to know and what kind of tree it is. It had fallen down and cut the wires.”
Downed trees and wires closed portions of Bushnell-Campbell Road and Route 7 until crews could clear the roadway. Power outages were also reported in the area, affecting about 2,500 customers.
“If anybody’s coming to Hartford, if you can use an alternate route to get around Hartford, that’d be much appreciated at this point,” said Kuhn.
In Mercer County, storms left a path of destruction that looked like a war zone. Dozens of trees were knocked down on North Buhl Farm Drive and Hazen Road in Hermitage.
Power was out in the neighborhood and lines were down in the road. Several streets were blocked off as crews cleaned up the debris.
Resident Connie Shemancik said she was driving home from work when the trees started falling around her.
“It happened so fast. I was coming up Buhl Farm Drive concentrating on a young lady crossing the street, seen the storm coming, and as I was going further up Buhl Farm Drive trees started falling, and I came to a stop before the bigger one uprooted,” said Shemancik. “There was a couple that hit my car on the roof.”
Shemancik said she waited in her car about 10 minutes before help arrived.
A home on Hazen Road in the Buhl Woods development was struck by lightning during the storm. Homeowner Rich Zakzewski said he didn’t realize his house was hit by lightning until he started smelling the smoke.
“The wind started gusting and the hail was picking up and I heard my shingles blowing. I figured some were blowing off, no big deal. Then, I was in the library and I heard a big ka-bang, and at the same time my mom was in the other end of the house. The T.V. went off and all the lights were out,” said Zakzewski. “We went looking to see where it was, and I saw the lady across the street her tree was down. I just took for granted that was it but then the whole house started filling with smoke and the fire alarm went off.”
The lightning strike left a hole in the roof and Zakzewski said the basement has close to a $100,000 in water damage.
At the height of the storm, 1,000 customers were without power in Hermitage. By Thursday morning, about 600 customers were still without power in the Hermitage and Sharon area.
Mercer County Head Start Executive Director Wilma Torres said the Hermitage Head Start Classroom and the Pre-K Counts Classroom will be closed Thursday because of the power outage and storm damage.
In nearby Sharon, winds blew a portion of the sheet metal roof off of Sharon Coating on Sharpsville Avenue. Part of the roof landed on power lines.
So far, no injuries have been reported in the storms.
Click on the weather tab on our homepage to view images of the storm submitted by viewers.
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