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Storms leave hefty cleanup for Tri-Staters on Friday

Posted at 11:06 PM, Mar 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-15 12:18:25-04

Powerful Thursday storms toppled trees, blew the siding off of barns and forced people across Greater Cincinnati to wait in basement shelters as sirens droned overhead.

“I think today’s warning was a little more extreme,” said Jessica Tomain, whose staff at 21c Museum Hotel ran up and down seven flights of stairs to ensure every guest had been evacuated to safety during one tornado warning. “I don’t know if we’ve had to evacuate people for a tornado before.”

Kenwood gas station owner Ron Badesha dealt with an even more startling surprise: With a crash, the wind separated the roof of his BP from the rest.

He said he was grateful no one had been hurt. The damage didn't matter in comparison.

“There’s insurance," he said. "They’ll take care of it, so we’re not really worried about it. Stuff happens, I guess.”

TAKE A LOOK: Viewers' best storm photos from around the Tri-State

In Hebron, National Weather Service meteorologists determined a downburst destroyed Conner High School's baseball dugout. The downburst likely had winds between 60 to 70 mph.

A brief, sunny reprieve late in the afternoon only preceded another set of tornado and thunderstorm warnings. Winds reached up to 70 mph in some areas of southeast Ohio.

As wind and rain finally subsided around 11 p.m., Duke Energy crews prepared to spend the night restoring power to thousands of lightless homes. Power outages peaked at 16,337 during the first wave of storms at 7 p.m.

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The company estimated power would be restored for most customers overnight.