TWINSBURG — It was a long, tough week for FirstEnergy workers and thousands of area residents who were without power, as the massive cleanup continued from the storm that blew across the northern tier of Summit County Nov. 5.

Even this week, some residents 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.

Power to most of the homes was restored by late Nov. 7 and early Nov. 8, with about a total of 60 hours without power. A handful of homes had to wait until mid-day Nov. 9 for restoration of service. About 17,000 residents of Twinsburg city, Twinsburg Township and Reminderville were without power at the height of the outages early last week, and about 39,000 in Summit County.

The storm blew through around 6 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5, and the majority of customers’ power was restored in late evening Nov. 7, said FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin.

"The city, as a whole, came together and worked as a team [in the storm’s aftermath]," said Twinsburg Mayor Ted Yates. "We were in constant contact with FirstEnergy and tried to provide info to our residents as much as possible.

"We borrowed equipment from other cities to help in the cleanup, and we are grateful for their help. I’d also like to thank the Red Cross for setting up a shelter for residents who didn’t have heat in their homes and needed a place to stay for a while.

"I am proud of our city employees who helped to get us through a trying time."

"It was touch and go for a while," added 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." 

Some residents were forced to stay at motels — many of which were booked solid over those three days, including the Comfort in off Creekside Drive and the Hilton Garden Inn off Wilcox Drive — because of a lack of heat in their darkened homes, and many had to discard food that spoiled in their refrigerators. Power crews and contractors helping in the cleanup effort also stayed in the area for a night or two, shopping in Twinsburg stores and eating at Twinsburg restaurants.

"The Bob Evans restaurant at Route 8 and Highland Road in Macedonia was jammed with utility trucks during the restoration effort," said Durbin.

Abrams Farm resident Melissa Mertes and her family were still without power as of 1 p.m. Nov. 7, as were thousands of other Twinsburg and Reminderville residents.

"I’m going to call the Comfort Inn in Twinsburg to see if we can get a room there tonight, but I think it’s probably booked. I’m just worried it’s going to be much colder tonight," Mertes said the afternoon of Nov. 7.

Mertes said she threw away food in her refrigerator as the time without power reached 44 hours. "We tossed everything yesterday," she said. "This is inconvenient, but it could be worse. As long as we’re all together, that’s what matters."

The Twinsburg Fitness Center remained open as a shelter, as did the Twinsburg Community Center, where a Red Cross station operated, Yates said.

One of the primary reasons for the widespread power outages was a 30,000-volt transmission line, which came down across Liberty Road, cutting off traffic for a couple of days between Post Road and Miktarian Parkway.

"Once we got that transmission line replaced, many customers in Twinsburg, Reminderville and Aurora were re-energized," said Durbin. "There were six large transmission poles down blocking the road near the roundabout."

The new poles had to be brought in from Mansfield, Durbin added.

Twinsburg Fire Chief Tim Morgan said diverting traffic caused headaches for many motorists.

In addition to Liberty Road, Twinsburg’s Cannon and Chamberlin roads were closed, and the only access to the Lake Plata Development for several hours was Shepard Road. In Reminderville, Liberty Ledges Drive was closed at Liberty Road.

The weather situation and power outages caused Twinsburg schools to be closed Nov. 6. They were closed Nov. 7, too, but that was a scheduled shutdown because of Election Day.

Twinsburg High, R.B. Chamberlin Middle, Dodge Intermediate and Wilcox Primary schools reopened Nov. 8, but Bissell Elementary did not reopen until Nov. 9 because its power was still out.

"The question was how to move the kids," said Superintendent Kathryn Powers. "It was about the ability to get the buses out. And some roads were impassible.

"We sincerely appreciate the diligent efforts of our local authorities, city crews and Ohio Edison in the aftermath of the storm. Thanks, as well, to our Tiger families for their patience and understanding during this very unusual week."

On Election Day, one polling location in Twinsburg, one in Twinsburg Township and two in Reminderville Village were changed because of the power outages.

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

"You start to get cold air masses working their way down from Canada and meet up with the warmer air masses from the southern tier of the U.S. that have not left yet," he said.

Twinsburg’s service department has been out with additional branch chipping equipment and crews to assist residents with storm damage cleanup. Residents are asked to be aware that the maximum size of branches that can be chipped is 10 inches in diameter.

Branches are to be piled on the tree lawns parallel to the roadway (cut ends not facing the road) to increase worker safety and efficiency. The service department thanks neighboring communities who have offered equipment and manpower to help with cleanup efforts.

In Twinsburg Township, a special branch chipping round will start Nov. 28 and continue until the entire township is cleared.

Crews will collect from each township street only once, and residents are encouraged to have branches out prior to the 7 a.m. Nov. 28 pickup and follow a few simple guidelines for service.

All branches should be placed in neatly stacked piles no greater than 10-inch diameter, and keep branches out of roadside ditches. Branches should not be mixed with leaves. Regularly scheduled leaf collection will take place the following week.

More information can be found at www.twinsburtwp.com under the "current programs" tab or by calling 330-425-4497.

Twinsburg Bulletin Editor Andrew Schunk and reporter Tim Troglen contributed to this story.

klahmers@recordplub.com

330-541-9400 ext. 4189