- Associated Press - Monday, February 28, 2011

FINDLAY, Ohio (AP) — Storms with heavy rain, high winds and hail knocked out power Monday and flooded homes and roads in Ohio and Indiana, and three homes in Kentucky were destroyed in what state police called an apparent tornado.

Sandbags were being distributed in Findlay, a city about 45 miles south of Toledo, and officials made individual warning calls to downtown businesses Monday because of the threat of yet another in a series of major floods along the Blanchard River.

East of Cleveland, about 100 people living near Painesville were ordered to leave their homes Monday morning because of flooding on the Chagrin and Lake rivers, said Larry Greene, Lake County emergency management director.

Crews using boats took 20 people from a mobile home park in western Ohio’s Mercer County as rising floodwaters closed in, said Mike Robbins, the county’s emergency management director. In neighboring Auglaize County, an official told the National Weather Service that a flash flood early Monday trapped residents of a mobile home park. Emergency director Troy Anderson did not immediately respond to messages seeking further details. There were no reports of injuries.

The weather service said flooding was a threat Monday in all 88 of Ohio’s counties. Wind gusts of 60 mph or more were recorded in several locations, followed by scattered reports of homes with roof damage, uprooted trees and downed power lines. Utilities reported that as many as 31,000 Ohio customers had no power late Monday morning.

Flooding in the Cleveland area canceled Monday’s classes at some public schools, and roads in numerous counties were closed because of standing water. For a time Monday morning, northwest Ohio’s Hardin County advised against any travel because so many roads were underwater.

In Findlay, north of Hardin County, the flood-prone Blanchard River reached its official flood level Monday morning and was expected to rise 5.5 feet more to crest late Monday night, the weather service said. That would be within a range of floods seen in 2008 and 2009, though not a catastrophic August 2007 flood, the worst since 1913.

“We have 20,000 sandbags that are being filled. We’re using inmates to help get those filled,” said Jim Barker, the Findlay city safety director. “There’s a pretty good line of traffic down there, people waiting to get some sandbags.”

Much of central Indiana was under a flood warning until Monday night.

In Hancock County, just east of Indianapolis, police reported that high winds blew the roof off of a home near the town of Ingalls, where a pole barn also was destroyed.

“It was just a wind that kept getting stronger and stronger, to the point that we heard debris,” Denise Arney, whose home was damaged, told WRTV in Indianapolis. “We knew we had to get downstairs.”

The National Weather Service said power lines just outside Muncie were knocked down by the strong winds and areas northeast of Indianapolis sustained most of the wind damage. The agency sent out a team to Madison County and the surrounding communities to assess the wind-damaged areas and determine if a tornado had touched down early Monday morning.

Kentucky State Police said an apparent tornado destroyed three homes in Henry County, northeast of Louisville, as storms blew through the state Sunday night and Monday morning.

Trooper Michael Webb said two houses were knocked down to their foundations and a third home had two walls standing, but the rest of the structure was gone.

Two people were treated for minor injuries, he said.

Robert Szappanos with the National Weather Service in Louisville said the agency is sending teams out around the area to investigate storm damage.

In the New York area, heavy rain and winds gusts of up to 50 mph were possible Monday.

The Department of Buildings said it will perform spot checks of construction sites to make sure cranes and scaffolding are adequately secured.

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