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Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Tornado confirmed

By William Kincaid

At least 60 trees at Eastview Park fell or were damaged during a tornado in Celi. . .

CELINA - A tornado with wind speeds of 115 to 150 miles per hour caused the devastation in Celina late Tuesday night.
The National Weather Service of Wilmington confirmed Wednesday the tornado that hit at 11:40 p.m. had an estimated path 30 yards wide and is thought to have reached an EF2 rating.
Weather service officials conducted a damage survey on Wednesday afternoon and reported a tornado began in Celina and extended northeast to two miles south of Neptune.
"Initial wind damage occurred near Lake Street in Celina and traveled northeast through the eastern end of Celina," the NWS report states. "The initial damage was indicative of EF1, which included substantial roof and chimney damage and very large trees uprooted and snapped."
Damage to the northeast part of town near Havemann Road was indicative of a low end EF2 tornado, according to the report. An EF1 rating includes a storm with wind speeds of 73-112 mph, and an EF2 has winds of 113-157 mph.
"This damage extended from (Menards) where as much as 20 percent of the roof structure was uplifted and HVAC units were moved along with lumber impaling the roofing material and damaging indoor inventory," the report states.
Numerous power poles were snapped and metal light posts were downed along Havemann Road. The roof of the Aldi store was taken off and a brick wall collapsed. Moderate damage to six other businesses was reported.
Mike Robbins, director of the Mercer County Emergency Management Agency, estimated major damage - based on FEMA standards - to about six homes and moderate damage to 25 to 30 homes in the county.
He wouldn't guess how many homes incurred minor damage, such as lost shingles.
Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue estimated at least 60 fallen or damaged trees will be removed from Eastview Park. The oak trees will likely be replaced, she said.
An old restroom in the park was struck by a tree and a shelterhouse constructed two years ago was destroyed during the storm.
Celina Public Works Superintendent Joe Wolfe said an insurance adjuster is expected to assess damage to city property today.
The city's electric departments, aided by the electric departments of Wapakoneta and Minster, restored the electricity near Havemann Road about 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Wolfe estimated.
Shortly after the storm cleared, help emerged.
A tree smashed into the kitchen of Tom and Rosann Rable on East Livingston Street and their good friend Mike King of King's construction arrived to help.
"He's really helped out a lot," Tom Rable said of King. "He called the tree people for us just after midnight. He called our insurance and everything was moving by 9 a.m."
King was still at the house at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, helping with clean up as the family laughed about wanting to put a skylight in their kitchen.
"Everyone's been really amazing," Rosann Rable said. "Mike has been here and the Red Cross was here first thing this morning. McDonald's gave us free breakfast and friends and neighbors have been stopping by all day to check on us and offer their help."
"It's really amazing to see how everyone pulls together in a small town," Tom Rable said. "I don't think we would've have this much help so quickly in a big city."
The Mercer County Chapter of the American Red Cross set up a disaster trailer Wednesday at Cashland, 1971 Havemann Road.
Hot meals and beverages were provided to victims and emergency workers, local Red Cross director Deb Hemmelgarn said. Lunch is being offered again today and cleanup kits are available for victims.
"We also had case workers who went to the homes that needed help and took food to them. Some of the families also were provided with temporary housing," Hemmelgarn said.
"Everyone pitched in and a lot of work got done yesterday. There were some that worked until late into the night, so we likely will pull out later today."
Anyone needing assistance is urged to contact the Red Cross at 419-586-2201 or 419-852-4624.
"It's really amazing how the community pulls together and the resiliency of people," Hemmelgarn added.
Additional online story on this date
CELINA - Two county employees are back to work today after a criminal investigation of improper use of vacation time revealed no wrongdoing.
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