Sifting Through the Remains

by Kim Tewalt on June 30, 2012 at 8:43 am

Cambridge residents have been left to pick up the pieces from the storm that rattled and devastated many parts of Ohio Friday evening.

"The storms came really quickly, my daughter and I were driving from here in town, the car started shaking really bad, I tried to pull over but I didn’t feel safe so we continued driving on. We were dodging trees going around any way we could to get back to the house." explained resident Christy Rome.

In Guernsey County approximately 10,000 people have been left in the dark, and AEP estimates it will be 5-7 days before power is fully restored. Steubenville Avenue in Cambridge was one of the hardest hit places in the County.

"Had a lot of devastation here in the county seat and in the city of Cambridge, we had a lot of buildings that were torn down, the church was completely leveled." said Steve Allen, President of Guernsey County Commissioners.

That church that was leveled was First Presbyterian, which has been in the same spot since 1822. Rebuilt in 1957, the structure which sat there for 45 years, barely remains.

"The building is hurt, the church is great. The church is the people, and we’re all safe, nobody got hurt. Probably the only night of the week that there’s not a group of people in the church is Friday night, if it had been an hour earlier there would have been a bunch of people around and I’m sure it would have been very devastating." said Keith Leach, the Pastor of the church.

Pastor Leach says there has been an outpour of support for his church and congregation from those in the community, and says he’s thankful it wasn’t worse.

"You think of what it could have been, and it’s just a building, that’s an inconvenient thing but it’s not a tragedy."

The Red Cross has set up an overnight shelter for those in need at the Cambridge City Park Armory, as well as a cooling shelter at the Guernsey County Senior Center. The Red Cross is reporting that all hotels are full in Guernsey County, and the hospital is full except for those who have a true emergency.

Guernsey County Commissioner Steve Allen says there is still a lot of work to be done.

"Here at the County level, we’ll try to do an assessment to determine the extent of the damage. Once we make a determination, if it exceeds our capabilities as far as clean up, at that point in time we’ll do a county disaster declaration." he explained.

If the county is declared a disaster, they will send the information on to state of Ohio and ask for agencies like ODOT and the National Guard to come in and assist in the cleanup effort.