Cleanup hits high gear

     "It's not real terrible now; I'd say comparable to that storm we had three or four years ago," Decatur Street/Sanitation Superintendent Jeremy Gilbert said at noon Sunday of the ongoing cleanup following a storm which popped up amid high heat and humidity around 3 p.m. Friday, blowing through Decatur and Adams County and creating widespread damage.
    No serious injuries were reported.
    Winchester St. was reopened to traffic on Sunday due to a fallen tree and power lines. "We had to shut it down until we could get AEP crews in," Gilbert said.
    All other streets in the city were open to traffic as of approximately 6 p.m. Friday.
    A number of residents remained without power today and downed power lines were still being found, Gilbert said, urging caution on the part of the public. "We're still running into downed power lines today (Sunday), a lot of them in back yards. We are strongly urging people to stay away from all lines as they might be 'hot' and it takes only one time..."
   Gilbert said the cleanup effort would resume at 6 a.m. "to try to beat some of the heat." He asked for patience as "this is going to take some time."
    Residents are asked to move all debris to curbside for pickup. Gilbert also noted that the city's compost site behind Riverside Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He said people can take their unwanted brush or branches there are any time.
    The street commissioner added that it was hoped that no additional help would need to be added for the cleanup effort. "We're going to try to get by with the manpower we've got. We'll probably get some help from the water department; they had four people helping us on Friday," he explained.
    Gilbert stressed the citywide cooperation among emergency personnel, and was exhuberant in his praise of city residents. "It's just phenomenal the way the public has helped. We'd no more than get a tree off a car then we'd hear chain saws, people cleaning stuff up after us. Really, it's just been amazing the way people have responded and helped out."
    Mayor John Schultz said there were no reports of major damage in the city and that the cleanup effort will be ongoing.   
    People were reminded that  a burning ban remains in place, so rather than burn any debris, it should be set out for pickup.
    While there was no major damage reported here, damage was widespread: limbs and even trees on vehicles, trees falling and damaging buildings, shingles blown off, splintered trees, branches littering yards and streets.
     The fire department, of course, had a hectic several hours on Friday, with several trees burning due to fallen "hot" power lines. There was one house fire, possibly caused by a surge in power.
    Decatur Assistant Fire Chief Jim Hitchcock said the department made "probably eight to 10 runs" and was wrapped up by around 11 p.m. Friday. "The main thing is, there's no injuries. That was a prettty scary storm," he remarked.
Restaurants busy
    The storm brought booming business to most Decatur and area eating places.
    With power out in a widespread area, including Ohio, people were visiting restaurants here for hot food ... and probably cool air, as well.
    "We had people from Celina, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio City and lots from right around here. Friday night was really busy," one restaurant owner said.
    Hardware stores reported a big run on generators, as did service stations for the gasoline and oil needed to run the generators. Batteries also were a popular item as was ice.