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Tornadoes Touch Down in New Athens, Wintersville

Photos by Carri Graham A home along Culbertson Drive in New Athens is destroyed after a tornado touched down Thursday evening. Homeowners John and Deb Ledger sit outside the home with family and friends as they await a response from their insurance company or Red Cross to be provided a place to stay for the evening while the damage to the property is assessed.

Neighborhoods in both New Athens and Wintersville felt the brunt of tornadoes that touched down in both areas Thursday evening, damaging homes and downing trees and power lines.

One home on Culbertson Drive in New Athens was completely destroyed after the tornado ripped through the property, taking the roof with it. Homeowners John and Deb Ledger said they were in the middle of eating dinner around 5 p.m. when they received a tornado warning alert on their phones. It was only moments later when the twister began tearing away the roof of the structure. John said they began running through the home into the back of the house as the roof continued to rip away from the building. It was thrown into their backyard.

“As I was reading the alert on my phone, the wind kicked up and took our patio furniture up over the hill then the roof started peeling off,” he said.

The majority of the roof was completely gone, along with a shed that once stood in the backyard. Multiple trees were also scattered around the front of the yard. Although the property was severely damaged, no one was injured, which John said is the important thing.

“At least we’re safe and that’s what matters,” he said. “The worst part is over. We have neighbors and people helping us, the fire department and everyone else. That’s what America is about.”

The Ledgers have lived at the residence for 11 years and were unaware of anything like this occuring in the area previously.

As of Thursday evening, the couple along with their two dogs, Pika and Bella, were awaiting either the American Red Cross or their insurance company’s assistance to provide lodging for them as the damage to the property is assessed. A neighbor who offered to provide a generator to the Ledgers said a tree had fallen into his home, causing damage.

A telephone pole leans across the road on Ohio 519 outside New Athens Thursday. The roadway was closed “indefinitely” after a tornado caused extensive damage to both power lines and trees along the road.

The Ledgers and more than 100 other families in the village were left without power following the tornado’s destruction — 143 outages to be exact, according American Electric Power Ohio. As of 10 p.m., the estimated restoration time was set for 11 p.m.

Another home located along North Main Street also lost a portion of its roof. Dawn Carson, the renter of the home, said half of her roof was torn off and thrown into a neighbor’s vehicle.

The tornado went along Ohio 9 then made its way to Ohio 519, where multiple power lines were knocked down, witnesses said. According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the road that leads to Harrisville will remain indefinitely closed due to “extensive damage to power lines and trees.” Crews were on scene working to clear the roadway late Thursday.

In Wintersville, one Bantam Ridge home was destroyed and other structures damaged. Lee Hendricks, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Moon Township office, said the path of a tornado in this region normally is about 200 yards, capable of producing great damage, but much shorter than tornadoes tracked in the Midwest, where conditions can contribute to stronger storms.

But Hendricks noted Thursday’s squall, nonetheless, produced winds measured at one point at 65 miles per hour.

American Electric Power reported more than 900 Jefferson County customers remained without power late Thursday while 142 customers in Harrison County were without power.

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