LIMA — Walking through the shell of his Wapakoneta home, Ron Zenz remained calm, but was visibly stunned.
Thursday’s storm ripped the roof off his home at 708 Dearbaugh Ave. in Wapakoneta while he and his wife were asleep. By Thursday afternoon, furniture had been relegated to his detached garage, and friends swarmed to help out.
Inside, the ceiling was wet, and in some places, caving in. A door to the attic crawl space instead showed a gaping hole, the blue sky exposed. Carpets were sopping with stormwater.
“It was a very, very fast gust of wind that destroyed my home,” said Zenz, 65. “I think we can salvage most of the stuff that was in the house, but I don’t think the house will be worth much.”
No one was hurt at his home, and no serious injuries have been reported in the region. Parts of Wapakoneta were particularly hard hit. Many said the wind traveled from the county fairgrounds, near Zenz’s home, down Plum Street, down to fast food businesses on the other side of town.
According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts at more than 60 mph were felt in west central Ohio. The bulk of damage reports came from the south of Lima. That high wind of 62 mph was reported three miles southwest of St. Marys in Auglaize County, with a 60 mph gust reported five miles northwest of St. Marys in Auglaize County.
A tornado touchdown was also confirmed Van Wert County, in Willshire. The National Weather Service reported the twister lasted roughly two minutes, with top wind speeds at 80 mph. No one was hurt.
In Wapakoneta and elsewhere, the worst most people had seen were downed power lines and trees, tipped over semi trucks and flash flooding in spots. Roofs of a few other homes, garages and barns had also blown off from large gusts of winds.
Elizabeth Fredrick, 75, of Wapakoneta, said she hid behind her couch when she knew the storm was coming. She lives on Perry Street, parallel to two sets of train tracks.
“I thought a train was on the track,” she said, but there was no train. “My whole house shook. Thank God we’re all still standing.”
Her daughter and two great-granddaughters came over to help clean debris from the yard the next morning. A neighbor’s home lost a carport, the aluminum spread throughout the neighborhood.
The storm blew through the region just before midnight and continued for nearly an hour and a half early Thursday. Most AEP Ohio customers in the region who had lost power had their power restored on Thursday.
Near New Knoxville in Auglaize County, several houses along state Route 219 sustained moderate damage. The tops of trees were obviously twisted. Debris knocked over fence rows and spilled onto a runway at the Auglaize County Neil Armstrong Airport near state Route 219.
According to storm spotters from the National Weather Service, the storms caused other damage throughout the region, including:
• Structural damage near Continental in Putnam County.
• Significant wind damage to a barn and another nearby building three miles northwest of Rockford in Mercer County.
• Power poles snapped on state Route 364 near St. Marys.
• Numerous trees knocked down in Wapakoneta in Auglaize County.