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Nature’s show highlights holiday weekend

Photo by Shari Harris
High winds lifted this building’s roof and flipped it to cover the parking lot, including a vehicle containing James Hawkins, who wasn’t injured. Part of the front of the building over K&J Smoke Shop came down as well, covering the ground below in rubble.

By Shari Harris, Publisher

Around 2 p.m. Saturday, nature put on a show of force in Licking. A thunderstorm packing high winds swept through town, leaving a path of damage in its wake and soaking those assembled at Deer Lick Park for the Independence Day celebration.

The wind caused damage to multiple trees in the area, breaking limbs and uprooting some. Shingles were torn from roofs and metal roofs were curled from its power. A path heading north-northeast, from the FEMA building to the northeast corner of the four-way stop, seemed to be hit especially hard. Metal was curled on the roof of the FEMA building, a few shingles came off the Junior High Building and the shingled roof of the First Baptist Church was damaged.

Photo by Christy Porter
Damage to the FEMA building roof occurred during the Saturday afternoon storm.

But the most obvious destruction was located at the northeast corner of the junction of Highway 137 and Highway 32. The wind lifted the back of the roof over three businesses then flipped it over the front of the building to land in the parking lot. James Hawkins, of K&J Smoke Shop, had just gotten into his car in front of his store, on his way to pick up his brother’s family from the Aquatic Center, which had closed due to the storm. The metal roof came down onto his vehicle, but he was able to crawl out without injury.

Paul Wade reported some damage to the roof of the garage next to the building, but it was mostly intact and he housed some items pulled from A Cut Above beauty salon until they could be moved to storage. Sweet Temptations bakery and eatery and the smoke shop were the other businesses affected.

The Licking Rural Fire Department responded to the area for traffic control and to assist with shutting off power to the building. They also responded to the FEMA shelter to assess damage. Fire Chief Aaron Greathouse reported that crews spent approximately four hours assisting with cleanup and damage assessments.

Licking School Superintendent Telena Haneline and her team also assessed the damage to the FEMA gym and emergency shelter.

“After working to clear significant amounts of water from the gym floor due to the FEMA roof damage, surveying the entire campus for any possible damage, and repairing a few shingles that lifted on the Junior High Building, Mr. Wesley Wilson, Licking R-8 Maintenance Supervisor met with an emergency crew from Stiles Roofing to coordinate a temporary repair to prevent further water leaks and interior damage,” Haneline reported. “The school district will continue working with our insurance company and roofing contractor to complete restoration of the FEMA roofing system.”

Photos by Pat Burton

“We are thankful to Mr. Wilson and our maintenance crew, the Licking Rural Fire Department, the City of Licking Maintenance Department, and the City of Licking Police Department for their quick response and efforts to assist after the storm damage,” added Haneline.

The Licking Police Department, City utility crews, and Intercounty Electric crews were busy throughout the afternoon assessing damage, directing traffic, restoring power and helping with cleanup.

Photos by Christy Porter

Photos by Shari Harris

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