By Jeff Gallatin
City officials Monday hoped to be able to focus on continuing cleanup work and not worry about power problems by the start of business Tuesday.
“As of Monday morning, we were down to about 140 homes in North Olmsted without power,” North Olmsted safety-service Director Scott Thomas said. “FirstEnergy assured me that they would be back on by midnight Monday. We’ll be following up to make sure that indeed was the case.”
At the worst point, Thomas said, there were 7,100 people in North Olmsted without power.
“It was a tough situation for all involved,” he said, noting that the city set up hot meals for people at the Senior Center and Community Cabin in North Olmsted Park. In addition, some residents of North Olmsted and other western communities had some residents without power taken to Garfield School in Lakewood, where the Red Cross had set up some facilities. Thomas said he was satisfied with the utility companies’ response to the city’s needs, noting it was a major emergency.
Heavy rains caused water backup and other problems at the city wastewater treatment plant, so Thomas said city workers went to some residences to deal with backups in homes where sump pumps were not functioning properly. In addition, a special Saturday trash pickup was set up with Republic for items damaged during Sandy’s storm.
“We set up additional measures to try and cope with the problems created during the storm,” Thomas said. “We’re glad to be able to help, but we won’t be going into basements on a regular basis. This was because of the emergency nature of the situation, as we’re sending out a letter indicating that.”
Safety forces indicated a large, steady amount of incidents, but none that caused deaths.
“We had a week’s worth of calls, with more than 60 in one night (Monday, Oct. 29) and a lot throughout, but the biggest was a tree hitting a house. Fortunately, the occupant wasn’t injured,” fire Chief Tom Klecan said.
“There were a lot of calls and we helped and assisted people where we could,” police Chief Jamie Gallagher said. “Fortunately, there were no deaths or critical injuries.”
Paul Schumann of the Olmsted Historical Society said the Frostville Museum campus came through relatively unscathed, with no major damage.
Interim North Olmsted Schools Superintendent Terry Krivak said the schools were off three days, largely because of no power and no heat in some buildings, such as the administration building and the central kitchen at Pine School.
“We went to a backup plan of having meals done at the high and middle schools,” Krivak said.
Heat and power were restored enough to allow schools to open again Friday, he said.
Thomas said officials in Mayor Kevin Kennedy’s administration would be reviewing how everything was handled and ways of providing better service.