Tornado or straight-line winds?

Lineman Zak Kauser repairs damage the next day.

When the sun is shining with clear blue skies during the day, the evening weather can change in a matter of minutes. This exact instance happened around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, when an unconfirmed tornado hit the area of Cecil, Ohio. With an EF0 intensity rating, the tornado’s 45 to 85 mph winds caused widespread damage.

This storm came as a surprise to many people. Just as crews were heading out to the Cecil area, another storm came through Paulding County with 80 mph winds near the Haviland and Latty areas. This affected both American Electric Power (AEP) and Paulding Putnam Electric Co-op (PPEC) members. Both storms left many barns flattened, miles of power lines down, and substations knocked off. These storms caused an estimated 2,100 members to lose power.

Luckily, power was restored to all PPEC members by late Thursday evening. This is a huge blessing considering AEP was hit harder by the storm, causing their customers to be without power for two to three days.

During the storm, one family faced a terrifying experience when transmission lines fell on their vehicle while driving, pushing them off the road and into a field. PPEC linemen Doug Johanns and John McMaster found the family scared and waiting for help. Luckily, the family stayed inside their vehicle to avoid electrocution. The mother told PPEC, “I was to the point of hyperventilating from panic when the PPEC linemen finally showed up to save the day.”

Paulding County EMA called a state of emergency because so many were without power with no idea when the power would be back on. The National Weather Service visited the county on Friday to see what damage had been done to confirm if it was a “weak” tornado or straight line winds. Both can still be very dangerous.
For more pictures of the storm damage, visit PPEC’s Facebook page.

For information on how to stay safe in a storm, visit our website at