AURORA — It was a long, tough week for FirstEnergy workers and many area residents as they cleaned up after a storm blew across the northern tier of Summit and Portage counties on Nov. 5.

Even this week, some residents likely are cleaning up and taking care of damage to their homes, businesses and properties.

For a while last week, though, the sounds of television sets and radios were quiet and the sounds of chainsaws, heavy machines and trucks hauling utility poles became the norm as residents waited for their power to come back on.

On the day after the storm, more than 20,000 people were without power in the Aurora-Twinsburg-Reminderville areas and around 9,000 in Portage County and 39,000 in Summit County.

Power to most of the homes was restored by late Nov. 7 and early Nov. 8. A handful of homes had to wait until mid-day Nov. 9 for restoration of service.

The reason there were such a big chunk of customers without power in this area was partially because a 30,000-volt line came down over Liberty Road in Twinsburg.

"There were six large transmission poles down blocking the road," said FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin. The road was closed for a couple of days and the poles had to be brought in from Mansfield.

Sections of Route 303, Route 82 and East Pioneer Trail were also closed.

"We were fortunate that there were no injuries and structural damage was fairly limited," said Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin. "I wish to thank our residents and businesses for their patience in this emergency and for banding together and aiding those in need."

Service Director John Trew also said Route 43 was closed for a brief time Nov. 7, but that was because an oversized truck pulled down some utility poles.

Power was off for a time at two city buildings. Fire Station 1 operated with a generator, while the Walker Building had partial power for a while.

The metal bleachers at Ballfield 5 across the access road from Aurora High were lifted on their side and pushed up against the backstop. Parks-Rec Director Jim Krause and the mayor could not be reached to provide a damage estimate.

Trew, who was on vacation in Florida until Nov. 9, said he was in constant contact with service department personnel in Aurora during the early cleanup operations.

"It was a busy week for the staff," he said. "We cleaned up debris on the roads and on city property, and pitched in to continue cleaning up after FirstEnergy crews replaced poles."

Trew said the cleanup came during an already busy time, when service department workers are out picking up leaves and preparing trucks for this winter’s snow removal.

He said the city has extended its brush cleanup into this week to accommodate residents who have branches they need hauled away. "There is a ton more brush out there to collect than usual because of all the downed trees," he said. 

"It was touch and go for a while," said Reminderville Mayor Sam Alonso. "But everyone pulled together. I can’t say enough about the effort our police, fire and service departments did.

"First Energy brought in crews and contractors from New Jersey, and they worked hard and fast. It was amazing to watch. Our service guys were out clearing roads, too; in fact they were still out late in the week."

As for the local schools, Superintendent Pat Ciccantelli said there was minimal damage from the storm and classes were called off only one day — Nov. 6 — because power was out at the high school and Craddock and bus routes were difficult to traverse.

"We had slight damage to some bleachers at Veterans Memorial Stadium and a hood on a rooftop air conditioning unit at the high school for which we might submit an insurance claim," he said, adding he was unsure of a damage estimate.

Ciccantelli said power at AHS and Craddock was back on by the evening of Nov. 7 and classes resumed at all schools Nov. 8. He noted Nov. 7 was an off-day for students because of a staff development day.

"Miller and Leighton schools never lost power, and Harmon was off for a brief period," he said. 

"We’re used to having to close for a day here and there," he added. "It’s unfortunate, but safety comes first. We’d like to thank all the power company workers, the mayor and city staff for their efforts in the storm’s aftermath."

Paul Walker, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather, said strong late season severe storms are not unusual in Ohio.

klahmers@recordpub.com

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