‘Resilient’ communities on display as cleanup begins in the wake of Wednesday’s storms

‘Resilient’ communities on display as cleanup begins in the wake of Wednesday’s storms
A Milford man's garage shows the damage from Wednesday's storm. (Source: WXIX)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Several areas of Greater Cincinnati sustained significant damage in the storms that passed through the region Wednesday night.

The storms unleashed heavy downpours, wind gusts more than 70 mph, lightning and golf-ball sized hail. It snapped trees and uprooted them, downed power lines and damaged homes and buildings.

Fourteen thousand remain without power as of this writing, according to Duke Energy, down from 76,000 in the storm’s immediate aftermath.

A Duke Energy spokesperson called the damage “widespread," adding 40 distribution and seven transmission utility poles were broken.

Viewer submitted photos and videos show the storm’s power:

The power was still out on some streets in Versailles, In. as of Thursday night.

“Sounded like a train, just a bunch of stuff blowing around, trees down, cracking, lightning, transforming popping stuff like that," Versailles resident Nick Schwarte said.

Fellow resident Andrea Cumberworth used the same metaphor.

“Sounded kind of like a train coming in," she explained. “We saw the transformers blowing in town, so we ran into the house, got the kids and ran into the basement.”

The scene across Versailles is one of destruction: downed power lines, shingles ripped off buildings, homes and business damaged and a family’s barn that was being rehabbed -- and now must be replaced.

“It broke our hearts," Cumberworth said. "This is a family property, and just so many memories and things. It’s just heartbreaking, and it’s going to be a lot more hours of work. But it will be good when it’s all done. We are just fortunate we’re all okay.”

“We were very close to getting it done, but we are just happy we are alright," Josh Cumberworth said. "It’s replaceable.”

Andrea added: “We are just fortunate that we live in this community that we do. Everyone kind of rallies around you.”

Versailles resident Ben Steinhauer agrees.

“Everybody is pretty resilient here," he said. "We’ve had tornadoes over the years, and we’ve had wind storms, and everybody bounces back.”

Mike Vitatoe and Lewis Carter live across the street in the Day Heights neighborhood of Milford, one of the areas the storm hit hardest.

“By the time I got inside and shut the door, we’re hearing crashing, banging, trees falling,” Vitatoe told FOX19 NOW. “I look outside, and our electric is buzzing, and that’s when we hopped in the tub.”

Carter is convinced the storm from which he, his wife and their young children sought shelter produced a tornado.

“We heard what sounded like a freight train or a bulldozer coming over the house,” he said. “And I thought the house was going to lift off.”

Carter says he’s been working to remodel the house for the past two years.

“We actually bought this as a foreclosure and put a lot of time, love and sweat equity into it,” he explained. “So it was really heartbreaking to come out and see that gone.”

Meanwhile, in Mt. Healthy, Dave Balzen says he was sitting in his living room when he storm picked up intensity.

“Before we could get down into the basement, it was all hell breaking loose outside,” he said.

Balzen made it to the basement as the tornado warnings sounded. When he returned upstairs, he discovered the storm had ripped off a corner of his roof, which is now patched with a tarp.

Gavin Burnett, also of Mt. Healthy, was taping the storm when suddenly the winds picked up,.

“I have never been caught in winds like this or had something actually do property damage,” said Burnett.

The wind blew out window panes from his back deck.

“It was terrifying, but I also thought it was really cool too, cause I’ve never seen something like that before,” he said.

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