MOUNT GILEAD — The tornado that struck Mount Gilead on June 13 was devastating to our small town; but, as Mount Gilead always does, the community came together and persevered. The storm knocked out power to 100% of the village and nearly all of Morrow County.
Immediately after the storm, I reported to work and started helping to clear debris from the roadways before meeting up with Mayor Brucker, Fire Chief Chad Swank, and Morrow County Emergency Management Agency Director John Harsch at the Mount Gilead Fire Department where they had established a Command Center to direct personnel and resources to where they were needed.
The village street crew and about 16 firefighters reported from home as well.
Officer Micheal Turner, who was scheduled to go off-duty at 12 p.m., offered to stay over and help. He ended up staying 10 hours past the end of his scheduled shift. During that time, he assisted with clearing roads, closing roads due to hazards; and, most impressively, he coordinated setting up an emergency shelter for campers who were stranded at the Jellystone Campground.
The shelter was set up at the Mount Gilead High School for the evacuees where they had access to shelter, bathrooms, mats, and showers. Firefighter Alexis McCoy aided by obtaining water and diapers for those in need and Fire Chief Chad Swank arranged for transportation.
The Red Cross was contacted and came in to help as well.
Officer Turner will receive a commendation for his actions that night as his dedication to the Village of Mount Gilead and his fellow human beings was exemplary and should be recognized.
Officer David Blanton, who came on-duty at midnight, spent nearly his entire shift out assisting with identifying and marking hazards for motorists, such as low hanging lines, and patrolling businesses and banks that were without power or alarm protection. To my knowledge, there were no thefts reported last week in the village.
Local businesses and citizens were very supportive of all the emergency services and donated food and drinks which was greatly appreciated by all of us.
The Mount Gilead Street Department also worked very quickly to get the streets open that could be. FirstEnergy responded in-force to get power restored.
Calls for service during the week were unusually low which allowed for officers to focus on the traffic hazards created by having multiple road closures and detours. We performed several well-being checks on residents for their families and handled several alarms due to the power outages.
As of Friday, June 17, nearly all of the village has power restored and roads are open. There is still a lot of work to be done but the worst is definitely behind us now.
We are thankful that there were no casualties or serious injuries as a result of the storm. Property damage is a major inconvenience, but it can be repaired or replaced.