Residents, property owners begin recovery in wake of Wednesday tornadoes


In the wake of Wednesday’s tornadoes, residents and property owners across Highland County on Friday were in the midst of the long process of assessing damage and dealing with insurance companies, as local officials expressed relief that no injuries or fatalities were reported.

By Friday morning, the National Weather Service had confirmed what residents who experienced the events said they already knew – that three tornadoes struck Highland County on Wednesday morning, with the Leesburg and Greenfield areas hit with tornadoes classified as EF0 (winds 65-85 mph) and the New Market area hit with a tornado classified as EF1 (winds 86-100 mph).

Jim Lyle, director of the Highland County Emergency Management Agency, said Friday that dollar estimates for as many as 14 properties that suffered damage – in many cases severe – would likely not be determined until early next week.

“People are contacting their insurance agencies,” said Lyle.

Lyle said that a home on SR 771 near Leesburg had already been deemed a total loss by insurance adjusters. In other areas around the county, homes were damaged, and barns and garages were destroyed.

Lyle said that anyone who suffered damage from the tornadoes or storms and has insurance should contact him at 937-393-5880.

At the Jolly Dairy Farm property on SR 136 below New Market, Lyle said at least three of four barns were destroyed and a dairy cow was killed.

Lyle said that officials were also examining related damage in Adams and Brown counties, which were impacted “but not anything like what we had.”

The National Weather Service late Thursday determined that three separate tornadoes struck Highland County beginning around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, with the first starting on Larkin Road just off SR 72 in the Samantha area south of Leesburg. It was later deemed to be an EFO tornado, with wind speeds of 65-85 mph.

“Damage was first observed at a farm residence on the north side of Larkin Road, where one tree was downed, and a barn was destroyed,” the NWS reported. “Northeast of there, some minor tree damage was seen on State Route 72, and along tree lines in adjacent fields.”

NWS reported that structural damage occurred at a property on U.S. 62 near the intersection with Old U.S. 62, “with several outbuildings destroyed or heavily damaged. The house at this location had minor damage, mainly to roofing materials, with shingles removed on multiple sides. One large evergreen tree was uprooted, and other trees were snapped.”

At another property slightly northeast on U.S. 62, “garage was destroyed, and numerous trees behind the garage were snapped.”

On Leaverton Road, “a barn was partially collapsed. Two evergreen trees were snapped, and other tree damage was observed both at this location and across the field to the east. Slightly south of this location, also on Leaverton Road, several trees were downed along a low spot on the road, and a fence was blown flat. Minor tree damage was also observed where the tornado crossed Smith Road, and a garage door was blown in at a residence on State Route 771, with some trees snapped in the vicinity. A few trees were also damaged where the tornado crossed Monroe Road.”

The report stated that “tree damage was observed to be significant in several locations along Milner Road, which was still due to cleanup efforts just east of Monroe Road. A house on Milner Road sustained siding damage to both the east and west sides of the structure, and tree damage was extensive at this property. An adjacent modular home had its roof removed, and other outbuildings were damaged, with debris thrown northeast across an adjacent field. A few buildings at this property also exhibited signs of mud splatter.”

The weather service noted that a hay barn on Bridges Road “had most of its top half removed, with the top also removed from another adjacent outbuilding. A home on Big Oak Road had part of its roof removed, with debris observed in an adjacent field, likely a result of damage further to the west.”

NWS reported, “The last observed damage from this tornado occurred along Cope Road, where an outbuilding was mostly destroyed, and a garage had part of its roof removed. Debris was thrown across Cope Road into a field to the east and southeast. There was no tree damage observed along the tree line to the east of Cope Road, so it is believed that the tornado caused no further damage beyond this point.”

Another EF0 tornado struck the Greenfield area, with NWS noting that “one tree was downed at a residence north of the intersection of State Route 138 and Hardins Creek Road. Further north along State Route 138, several trees were snapped.”

The service reported that “on Road T-319A, a small unanchored shed was completely removed from its slab, and a barn had part of its roof removed on both its northwest and southeast sides. In addition, some trees in this area were snapped.”

NWS reported that the next damage “was along State Route 753 about one mile north of the bridge over Rattlesnake Creek, with several snapped trees. A slightly more concentrated area of tree damage was observed on Paint Creek Road just to the west of Paint Creek. Some tall trees were snapped, and sheet metal debris from earlier damage was also found along Paint Creek Road.”

Finally, a stronger tornado – an EF1, with winds of 86-110 mph – struck the New Market area.

“At a location on Sanders Road just west of US Route 62, a barn roof was significantly damaged, with roofing material thrown to the east as much as a half mile away. A few trees were downed in this area,” according to NWS.

NWS reported that the damage at the Jolly Dairy Farm on SR 136 was “most significant.”

“A large barn at this property experienced a significant amount of roof damage, including a total loss of the roof on the east side of the structure. Insulation, wood beams, and sheet metal from this roof were scattered across the property, and well into a field across State Route 136. A roof was also removed from a dog kennel, and a roof was partially removed from another barn at the property. Other outbuildings had minor damage as well,” NWS reported.

The weather service reported that “the house at this property sustained minor roofing damage and several broken windows, with some damage (and partial removal) of siding. Mud splatter was observed on several sides of both the main barn and the house. Trees were snapped or downed at this property, as well as along a tree line further to the west.”

The agency reported that “tree damage occurred on Millers Chapel Road near the intersection with Poole Lane. A few other trees were snapped in the field just to the north of Poole Lane, but damage was not observed west of the end point of Poole Lane.”

Weather service officials added, “We extend our appreciation to Highland County Emergency Management and Ohio Emergency Management for their assistance with this survey.”

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at [email protected].

Shown is a structure at the Honeycutt property on Larkin Road just off SR 72 nearly Samantha, where the series of tornadoes is believed to have begun Wednesday morning. is a structure at the Honeycutt property on Larkin Road just off SR 72 nearly Samantha, where the series of tornadoes is believed to have begun Wednesday morning. Photo courtesy Jim Lyle

By Gary Abernathy

[email protected]

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