and Kathy Antoniotti
Most Summit County residents are expected to have their power restored by today as the remnants of Hurricane Sandy left many Northeast Ohioans in the dark.
By Wednesday afternoon, fewer than 300 customers were still without power in Akron and Barberton.
About 100 customers were still without power in Medina County. In Cleveland about 120,000 customers are still waiting for their power to be restored.
“We hope to have the majority of customers restored in the Cleveland area by the weekend if not sooner,” said FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin. “In Summit County, we hope to have those customers’ power restored after midnight, late Wednesday or early Thursday and in Medina County it might stretch into Thursday as we get to them.”
FirstEnergy took extreme measures Wednesday afternoon to restore power to 41 customers in northern Summit County.
A five-man crew restored power by adding additional wire to a primary pole on St. Nicholas Drive in Richfield.
The State Highway Patrol and Richfield police had to block entrance ramps on Interstate 77 and slow down traffic four miles north and south of the Wheatley Road overpass to allow the workers to complete their task.
At one point, Durbin said, the utility considered closing the interstate to allow workers to string the wire.
“The foreman found another alternative that did not involve having to cross the highway during a busy day,” Durbin said. “It just took a little more time to do it.”
Durbin said the priority is to get the power back on as soon as possible.
“If we have to go back and take another look we will do that, but the idea is to make the repairs and then go to the next location,” he said.
As area residents cleaned up and dried out from the storm on Wednesday, two members of the Green Fire Department found themselves near the center of the devastation on the East Coast.
Lt. Pete Deevers and firefighter/medic Josh Compton were sent to McGuire-Dix military base in Lakehurst, N.J., as part of Ohio Task Force One, an urban search and rescue team.
The 81-member Ohio team was activated by the federal government to help with rescue efforts of storm victims, said program manager Evan Schumann of Kettering.
“Our mission is to do wide-area searches in New Jersey,” he said.
Task Force One is headquartered in Kettering near Dayton.
Deevers, a logistics specialist for the team, will help set up a base of operations and assist in making things run smoothly at the base. He will be responsible for a cache of rescue equipment valued at $5 million.
Compton will head a five-member team of rescue and search specialists that will include four “live-find” rescue dogs that specialize in locating live victims.
In other storm related developments, the National Park Service on Wednesday reopened the southern half of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
The hike-and-bike trail was reopened from the Botzum Trailhead off Riverview Road in North Akron to the Boston Store Visitor Center off Boston Mills Road in Boston Township.
The trail from the Boston Store north to the Lock 39 Trailhead in Valley View remains closed by high water.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.