Storm Aftermath

MARION, Ohio (AP) - Thousands of homes and businesses in this city were still without power Friday morning after strong thunderstorms that moved across the state a day before, killing one person, authorities said.

Most of the damage centered around north-central Ohio, as the storm system swept through the area Thursday evening. The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado struck Shelby at about 4 p.m., ripping the roof off a factory and downing trees. There were no injuries reported.

Officials on Friday were investigating tornado sightings in Wayne, northern Ashland and southern Medina counties, according to Jim Kosarik, a meteorologist with the agency in Cleveland.

In Marion, about 40 miles north of Columbus, a falling tree limb struck a sport utility vehicle, killing a woman as she drove during the thunderstorms, police said.

The tree limb smashed the roof of Shawna Stevens' Chevrolet Trailblazer in a residential neighborhood where she lived, police said. Stevens, 22, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

Approximately 6,100 Ohio Edison customers in Marion were still without power Friday, down from a high of 9,500 after the storms hit, said spokesman Mark Durbin. He said the utility hoped to have service completely restored by Saturday evening.

"The storm tore up a lot of trees, so we have to bring in additional forestry crews to clear out all the trees first, before we can get people working on the lines," Durbin said.

Ohio Edison parent FirstEnergy Corp. had as many as 100,000 customers lose power statewide on Thursday, but the problems were most severe in Marion, he said.

A line of heavy thunderstorms damaged buildings, tore the roof off of a high school and downed trees in other parts of the state.

Witnesses reported that the tornado in Shelby struck the Dofasco Copperweld plant, said Mayor Jim Henkel. The roof of the plant, which makes steel pipe and tubular products, was damaged and walls were blown down.

The plant resumed operations Friday. The company would use a scheduled shutdown next week to repair the damage, said Victor Riva, human resources manager for Dofasco Copperweld.

Henkel said the storm also moved cars in the parking lot and blew out car windows.

Power lines also were down, he said.

In nearby Ashland County, the roof of Black River High School was blown off, according to sheriff's Capt. Terry Hamilton.

"We've got trees down every place," Hamilton added.

Heavy rain and downed power lines were also reported in the area.

In northeast Ohio, high winds blew out the windows of cars in the parking lot of a supermarket in Salem. No serious injuries were immediately reported.

Winds damaged a service station and restaurant in Salem, located about 15 miles southwest of Youngstown.

Another bout of severe weather in northern Ohio caused thunderstorms and flooding Monday and Tuesday, with the Cleveland area hit especially hard.

About $5 million from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is available for victims of recent storms and flooding in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, Gov. Ted Strickland announced Friday. Eligible families may apply for up to $1,500 in disaster assistance and elderly and disabled residents who don't qualify for family-level help may qualify for up to $750.