Damage worse than tornado of ’98? Two city officials say yes

Published 8:32 pm Thursday, July 22, 2004

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- City crews in all departments worked through the night to begin cleanup of the devastation left from Wednesday night's severe thunderstorm.
Two city department heads -- one in charge of public works and the other the city's utilities operation -- compared the damage from Wednesday's storm to that suffered in the city during the tornado of Aug. 25, 1998.
That job was continuing in the city this morning and Coulston was working to hire additional contractors to help with the cleanup.
Coulston said it will take at least a couple of weeks for city crews to remove all of the downed trees and limbs from city property. Residents will have the opportunity to have their downed brush and limbs removed to the boulevard area of city streets, where city crews will pick them up.
It's way too early to place any estimate on damage from the storm, he said.
Tom Dawson, assistant manager of the city's utilities department, agrees.
At the peak of the storm's aftermath, 8,000 customers in the city were without electric power, he said. This morning at about 8:30 a.m., only 750 customers were without power.
Dawson hoped his crews would have power restored to all city customers by the end of the day today.
Dawson and Coulston cautioned residents from lingering in the storm damage areas.
Coulston said a major problem for city workers right now is gawkers who are out to survey the storm damage in the city but are getting in the way of cleanup and safety efforts. "People are driving around, slamming on their brakes to stop and look at trees. It's creating so many problems," Coulston said. "We are asking that they just stay out of the way."