Power Outages, Flooding Rampant As Tornadoes Batter Midwest

Beleaguered residents of the flood-ravaged Midwest found fresh damage Sunday from a batch of tornado-bearing thunderstorms that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers.

Tornado warnings were issued Saturday afternoon for parts of central and southeast Ohio. Downed trees and power lines were reported in the southern part of the state, said National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Hatzos.

Flooding this past week spread across an 80-mile swath through the northwest and north central parts of the state. Gov. Ted Strickland was to tour more of the damaged areas Sunday.

"What I've tried to do and what we've all tried to do is let these folks know ... that we are working to get assistance to them as rapidly as possible," Strickland said Saturday.

Powerful storms rolling through the Upper Midwest during most of the past week caused disastrous floods from southeastern Minnesota to Ohio that were blamed for at least 18 deaths.

In southern Michigan, about 42,000 customers still lacked power Sunday, utilities said. The weather service confirmed tornadoes touched down Friday in at least six areas of the state. One of the twisters cut a path a quarter-mile wide, snapping and uprooting hundreds of trees, the weather service said.

Five people were reported injured in Michigan's Eaton County. A dozen homes were destroyed and seven were heavily damaged, Sheriff Mike Raines said.

Damage in Fenton, Mich., was extensive, Mayor Sue Osborn said Saturday. "I have seen houses that have trees go right through them," she said. Only residents were being allowed into the city, she said.

Matt McClanahan's home in Michigan's Cohoctah Township was among at least 17 destroyed by a twister.

"I've seen devastation and I've helped clean up, but I've never seen it be me," he said. "I bought a bottle of Jim Beam and it's in the house. I could really use a sip of that right now."

Power had been restored to nearly 600,000 customers in northern Illinois since Thursday's storm, but it could take days to restore power to tens of thousands more, officials said.

The storms in Illinois were responsible for at least one death, a man struck by a wind-toppled tree, officials said.

Flooding in Wisconsin destroyed 44 homes and damaged more than 1,400, most of them in the southwestern part of the state. Officials in Vernon County lifted evacuation orders Saturday evening, allowing the return of 140 residents displaced after torrential rainfall strained a number of nearby dams.

About 1,500 homes were damaged around Minnesota. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator R. David said FEMA recovery centers should be running early this week in the three counties where President Bush declared disasters.