Return to normalcy: Wapak restores power, ready for clean-up

Electric power should be restored to Wapakoneta city consumers as crews worked throughout the weekend, the mayor says, after straight-line winds Friday downed power lines, felled trees and caused extensive property damage.

He also noted additional services should be forthcoming to help deal with the aftermath.

“To my knowledge, everyone in the city should have their powered restored as of today (Sunday),” Mayor Rodney Metz told the Wapakoneta Daily News on the eve of a Wapakoneta City Council meeting scheduled for today at 7:30 p.m. “The last conversations I had with Electric Department personnel was that everything was up and running. There are some people who are not with our utility but are within the city limits that don’t have electric power and that is the only thing.”

Those city residents receive their electric power through Midwest Electric, which is working to restore power throughout their service area.

Due to the storm, Cridersville and the rural area serviced by American Electric Power and Dayton Power and Light are still without service.

The mayor said Wapakoneta city crews worked throughout the weekend to check electric lines and restore power. The city received mutual aid assistance from the villages of Minster and Orrville.

Metz also said city administrators intend to contact Gov. John Kasich’s office this week to learn what money and services will be available to the city and its residents after Friday’s storm left two-thirds of the state including Wapakoneta without power.

On Saturday, Kasich declared Ohio in a state of emergency and appealed to President Barack Obama for federal help. He received word later Saturday from Obama that his request for federal assistance was granted and Obama declared the state in a federal state of emergency. The federal declaration allows the federal government to support Ohio with direct assistance such as electric generators and water. Additional resources may be requested as needed.

“As I told the president this afternoon, Ohio is facing a severe situation. I appreciate his quick response and am glad that additional equipment and supplies will soon start arriving,” Kasich said in a news release Saturday. “I’ve already declared a state emergency and activated the National Guard, and will continue to work with the EMA to evaluate the situation to determine our needs going forward.”

Metz said city administrators will review the requirements for the state and federal aid because often there are some “strings attached” to meet the requirements.

“We will be contacting them about aid and what services we may be provided, but most of the time we receive money for overtime hours, time spent collecting limbs and debris and at times money to grind the material up,” Metz said.

Locally, Metz said city administrators agreed to extend the hours of the composting facility and city residents could dump tree limbs and brush at the facility for free. He noted crews also would collect limbs at the curb in the near future.

He noted Wapakoneta City Tree Commission members will start to evaluate and to consider all the areas where city trees were destroyed.

In regard to Veterans Memorial Park, which had two dugouts destroyed and wires to light poles damaged, Metz said work would likely start soon to make the park safe for park visitors.

Metz clarified that Wapakoneta City Recreation Director Jack Hayzlett would determine if the park is safe for park visitors and the fields ready for play.

“As far as Veterans Memorial Park, the biggest issue is the two baseball field dugouts that were destroyed — one on field No. 1 and one on field No. 2 — so we will look at finishing the season up without both of those,” Hayzlett said. “We need to get them cleaned so WRI (Wapakoneta Recreation Inc.) can finish up the season and then we will look at replacing them with something.”

He said they have not done any work on the fields to this point to allow members of the Wapakoneta Police Department and insurance agents a chance to document and to assess the damage.

He said park crews are prepared to clean up the dugouts and other debris in order for a Pony League Championship between two Wapakoneta teams to take place, but there has been talk of rescheduling a time and place for the game.

As far as the Moon City Classic, Hayzlett said the park crews should have the grounds cleaned up in time for the tournament slated to start Friday and they are looking at some type of temporary shelters, tents or umbrellas for the two diamonds.

“I think it should be OK, but the only issue is we have to get the Electric Department out there to adjust the lights because the lights are pointing all over the place,” Hayzlett said. “I know they will be busy, too, this week, but knowing there are 46 teams coming that I am confident they will do the best they can to get it completed this week for us.”

For passers-by, the pool looked unaffected and opened on time on Saturday.

“The pool is fine,” Hayzlett said during a Sunday telephone interview. “We had leaves in the pool, a couple of damaged chairs and the big umbrella has a couple of rips in it but it is usable until the end of the season.”

He said they will turn those in on insurance.

“Mainly, we had to work on cleaning up leaves and debris in both pools,” Hayzlett said. “The kids worked hard on Friday night and they returned at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and they had it ready to open at noon. It was pretty clean and today it looks fantastic. It was unbelievable they got that all done because there were hundreds of leaves.”