Residents clean up houses after early morning storm causes damage

NILES — Around Niles Tuesday, tree limbs leaned on power lines and blocked roads, while others landed on houses and cars. A morning storm rushed through the Niles area early and left an impact on many residents’ property that they will be addressing for days and weeks to come.

Residents woke up Tuesday morning to blocked roads, downed powerlines and damage to homes and businesses throughout the city. Sporadic power outages were reported on Tuesday morning. Texts from the city’s alert system began at 7:59 a.m. letting Niles residents know the city crews were working on storm clean up and power issues.

“We are seeing a lot of trees and limbs down,” said Jeff Dunlap, city of Niles utilities manager. “There are sporadic outages, with utility lines pulled from homes.”

Dunlap could not say how widespread the electricity outages were at press time, but did say the city had called Midwest Energy for assistance in the power restoration efforts.

According to National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Brown, there was a thunderstorm early this morning that had developed north and west of the area.

“As it tracked over Niles, the storm collapsed resulting in higher winds,” Brown said.

Brown said from the radar, it looked like there may have been winds up to 60 miles per hour, though many downed trees looked to be older or less healthy growth and would have come down in a lesser wind speed.

Dunlap estimated a storm came through the area around 5:50 a.m.

Charles Wetmore lives at 719 Emmons St. This morning, during the storm, a tree fell through his roof.

“I looked outside, and I could see the stars,” he said. “I could see the lightning coming from the west. It only took 15 minutes to get here, and within a half hour the winds were just ferocious. It was a quick storm. It rained hard, but only for a short period of time.”

Wetmore had just made his morning coffee and thought about watching the storm from his back yard. As the rain intensified, he decided to back off.

“I was in the house, and [the tree] crashed down” he said. “It was subdued. It didn’t make a lot of noise considering the damage.”

As he waited for his insurance adjuster to come out, he said he will be working to get the tree off the house after and patch the holes with tarps to keep the house dry.

Over near the corner of Huron Street and Vann Street, Angel Acevedo was outside cleaning up tree debris in his yard just after 10 a.m. A tree had fallen onto the back porch of a home he has lived in for 11 years.

“It hit my whole back porch,” Acevedo said. “The whole back porch is gone.”

His power was still on, but his neighbor’s house had a tree leaning on the power line to their house, and Acevedo said their power was out.

Huron Street was blocked off by cones as a power line draped across it, and in the same neighborhood on Bond Street, downed trees and limbs blocked the road completely.

“It happened at 5:45 a.m. At 5:50 a.m., I had the phone call at work,” Acevedo said.

Just blocks away, near the corner of South Third Street and Broadway Street, Al Casperson’s chimney was destroyed by the storm.

“[The storm] just kept on going, and it started picking up,” Casperson said. “It got to the point where stuff started flying around. We got out of bed and it kept right on going.”

Casperson and his wife, Linda, ran to the lower levels of the house when it sounded like their roof might be coming off.

“We didn’t know what all the rumbling was. It was deafening,” he said.

Now, Casperson said he will be trying to keep the rain out of the roof until they are able to seal it off again.

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