MARTINS FERRY - Ohio Valley residents suffered through a double-whammy of wacky weather Friday.
After enduring a sweltering heat wave, the area was treated to a powerful storm that swept through at approximately 7 p.m., packing a steady rain, hale and winds in excess of 70 mph.
While the storm didn't last for more than an hour, the aftermath will force residents across the valley to pencil in cleanup duty atop their Saturday to-do lists.
CITY?PARK in Martins Ferry was hit hard during Friday’s round of storms. Multiple trees uprooted and came crashing down throughout the grounds, just one of multiple problem areas in town.
Martins Ferry Mayor Paul Riethmiller knew something was amiss when, assisting the police and fire departments with traffic control at the south end of town, he witnessed orange road barrels swirl into the air and blow south toward Aetnaville.
That began a series of calls that witnessed police and emergency crews racing back and forth across town.
The store sign at Convenient shattered, with half falling toward the pavement and damaging a patron's vehicle. A nearby transfer blew and garbage cans, businesses' signs and other items blew freely throughout the town.
The carnage then continued.
"We received a call that there were trees down all throughout the park," Riethmiller said. "You should see the roots on some of those. Can you imagine if that would have happened while we were having one of our events in the park?"
The various monuments inside City Park were left relatively unscathed but multiple trees broke and fell to the ground, including the large tree at the south end of the park which uprooted and came crashing to a halt on the grass.
A few streets over in the 700 block of Broadway St. a resident's roof was blown nearly clean off his house. While emergency crews were seeing to the shaken family another transformer a block away began sparking, sending police officers toward the danger, blocking off the roadway to avoid any unnecessary traffic.
Heavy winds seemed to race through St. Clairsville as furniture and other items outside the Belmont County Courthouse were picked up and scattered throughout the downtown.
Bill Green, a Morningside Dr. resident, watched as a falling tree took out his enclosed back porch, damaging the roof. The tree also found its way into his second story attack, destroying half of the siding on his house and leaving a sizable hole.
"The wind just whipped through in a straight line in sustained gusts for maybe 2-to-3 minutes, then it would quit, and start again," Green said. "It did this about six or seven times. About the third time, it brought the tree down on my house."
The Ohio Valley Mall was just one locale that lost power during the storm. The surrounding roadways, including Interstate 470, saw motorists dodging orange construction barrels.
In Western Belmont County, Barnesville residents battled high winds and power outages. A church on Ohio 800 near Somerton had its roof ripped clean off the structure. Barnesville Hospital was forced to utilize auxiliary power for a time.
Bellaire also fell victim to the storm with winds picking up debris and damaging property and vehicles.
Dan Brown, who was locked in a battle with village officials over the construction of his planned batting cages on Belmont St. suffered a setback when the structure collapsed in the high winds.
Brown must not assess the situation this morning and decide which direction to pursue.
Belmont County Emergency Management Agency Director Dave Ivan reported that no section of Belmont County suffered worse than the other, noting the amount of wind and rain seemed consistent across the county.
At the storm's apex, roughly 243,000 people across the Buckeye State were without power, including more than 150,000 in Franklin County.
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