LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) — Wednesday’s severe weather in Columbiana County was not the result of a tornado, according to the National Weather Service.
An expert with the National Weather Service office in Pittsburgh took a tour Thursday morning of the heaviset damage on the west side of Lisbon. Afterward, NWS official Matt Kramar said the damage in the village was the result of a downburst, with winds nearly 80 or 90 mph.
“They can have the appearance of a funnel cloud, even though it is not truly a funnel cloud. Very cold air, rain and hail will descend through the storm and that massive rain and hail can look like a descending cloud,” Kramar said. “It organized about a mile southwest of town, on Route 164, and as it spread out, it becomes wider and that is really what we saw, almost the entire town was engulfed by the strong wind.”
Both Lisbon Mayor Dan Bing and Columbiana County Commissioners declared a state of emergency for the village Thursday morning, hoping that will free up resources from the Ohio Department of Transportation and other agencies to assist with debris removal so families are able to start making repairs.
There are still about 150 residents without power in Columbiana County, and most of them are in Lisbon. Ohio Edison officials said they are hoping to have power restored to all areas by 8 p.m. Thursday.
And as crews with First Energy crisscrossed the area clearing tree limbs from power lines and replacing downed lines, authorities with the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency are concerned residents will be too quick to get back into their damaged homes and neighborhoods and ignore the risks of live wires still laying on the ground.
Columbiana County EMA Director Luke Newbold said it could be a week or more before some areas are safe enough to return to.
The sound of chainsaws and heavy equipment was echoing through the village Thursday afternoon, as Lisbon officials said at least three homes are destroyed there, and 20 or more have severe damage.
Some residents witnessed the destruction firsthand.
“I have never had anything like this happen, this close to my house. It kind of wakes you up and makes you think ‘what’s going on?,’” said resident Shawn Baker.
“All of a sudden you started seeing the trees start flying and hail hitting the house. It got bad,” said resident David Haught.
The thunderstorm pushed through the west side of town, snapping tree trunks and limbs like match sticks and dropping them on roofs and power lines. Mary Bowser and her son watched it all happen from their kitchen.
“He looked upstairs. He said ‘mom, we don’t have no roof.’ He said a tree come on it and he had just come out of that bedroom and right where his computer chair is, is where a beam is laying and the tree is laying,” Mary Bowser said.
An uprooted tree ripped out a gas line on Thomas Street, forcing three or four families to evacuate and spend the night at First United Methodist Church. The Red Cross has been working with the displaced families, some of whom are staying with neighbors or relatives.
“The fumes were coming into the house a little bit,” said Caitlyn Haught. “It was real strong before the cops got here and blocked everything off. It was bad.”