A Columbus Light and Water crew works on a utility pole near the McDonald's Restaurant on Highway 45 that was broken during Thursday afternoon's thunderstorm. The storm created outages along Highway 45, Seventh Avenue North and Military Road, leaving 1,500 customers without power. CLW had restored power to all of its affected customers by 7:30 p.m., according to CLW manager Todd Gale. Photo by: Slim Smith/Dispatch Staff
March 15, 2019 10:58:23 AM
James Basson stood in the darkened doorway of his business, James Fish and Seafood, on Military Road at 4 p.m. Thursday in a fluid state of operations.
He wasn't entirely sure if his store was closed or open. That depended on how quickly Columbus Light and Water could restore power along the Highway 45/Military Road corridor.
"My main worry now are my tanks," Basson said, noting that he needed electricity to feed the tanks where the live catfish are held. "Right now, I've got somebody going to pick up a generator, but I hope the power comes back on pretty soon."
The outage, which CLW Manager Todd Gale said affected 1,500 customers, was caused by Thursday afternoon's thunderstorm, leaving businesses and homes along Military Road, Seventh Avenue North and Highway 45 without power from downtown to 31st Avenue North.
Gale said a lot of outages on Highway 45 came after CLW crews had to de-energize two circuits to repair a utility pole near 18th Avenue North, which was broken by the wind and was found leaning precariously against the marquee of the McDonald's Restaurant.
"What was bad about that situation is that, normally, we can redirect power from one circuit to another when we're shutting a circuit down for repairs, but this pole happened to be where two circuits tie together," Gale said. "So we had to de-energize those circuits while we made the repairs."
A third circuit was shut down in the Lee Park area, which accounted for the outages on Seventh Avenue and Military Road.
Basson was not the only business waiting to see when the power would come back on. Employees at Kroger and Walmart stood in the doorway, informing would-be customers that the stores would be closed until power was restored.
Power along Highway 45 was restored around 6 p.m., Gale said. All affected customers had power again by 7:30 p.m.
Tornado warning sirens blared in Columbus twice during Thursday afternoon's severe weather threat, but the front passed through as just a heavy thunderstorm. Still, some minor damage was reported.
On Pleasant Ridge Road, between 18th Avenue and Military Road, an oak tree fell during the storm, hitting two houses and damaging their roofs. One of the homeowners, Bill Threadgill, was in his home when the tree punches several holes in his roof and crushed the roof of his garage.
"I just hear a loud noise, kind of like a clump, so I got up and I walked in the living room," he said. "(There was) about a two-square-foot hole in the corner of my living room and water was gushing in very rapidly."
His neighbor, Bryan Brown, was in the basement of his own home when the tree fell. Branches landed on his garage, damaging the roof but leaving his truck apparently unharmed. Neither home lost power.
Brown said he was glad it hadn't been worse -- if the tree had fallen a few feet either right or left, it could have done far more damage or hurt him or Threadgill.
He said he spent the entire storm hoping it wouldn't continue east to hit the same parts of Columbus that were hit by an EF-3 tornado three weeks ago, destroying multiple buildings and resulting in one death.
"After it hit me, all I could think about was those poor people," he said. "If it touched down again, they just went through it. I just said, 'Please God, don't let it hurt the same ... neighborhood.'"
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