Trees were uprooted throughout the area, many causing damage to homes in their path. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie, above, and Mark Campbell, below)
Trees were uprooted throughout the area, many causing damage to homes in their path. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie, above, and Mark Campbell, below)
The cleanup of massive wind damage got under way Sunday evening after an hours-long windstorm struck Jefferson County during the afternoon.

Madison city officials urged residents to conserve water because none can be pumped out of the wells without electricity.

While home and business owners began dealing with the heartache of the damage and the hassle of repairing it, everyone was affected in some way by the wind that wouldn't stop. Wind gusts up to 60 mph were reported at The Madison Courier's downtown weather station.

Presumably related to the wind storm, the Madison-Milton bridge was closed in midafternoon after a report that something fell off of it, and later the Markland Dam bridge was closed to vehicles also.

Inspectors were under the bridge using lights and special equipment late Sunday night.

School was called off for today at Madison Consolidated and Switzerland County schools. ISTEP testing was supposed to begin today.

A state of emergency was declared for Jefferson County, but the word apparently did not get out as radio stations were knocked off the air, people could not watch television, and only people with wireless computers could get the word online.

Restaurants and gas pumps had to close without electricity, though some restaurants on Madison's hilltop and west toward Hanover had electricity and remained opened. They were doing a lot of business while people could not cook at home.

Duke Energy will have a better idea today how long restoration of power will take, spokeswoman Angeline Protogere said. By late Sunday, 15,500 Madison customers were still without electricity and 1,500 had power turned back on, she said. Mayor Tim Armstrong said in late afternoon Sunday that city officials were told power might be off until Tuesday.

"Madison is one of the hardest-hit areas, and it is one of the worst outages" the company has seen, Protogere said. Not as many repair workers were available as usual because they were on mutual aid to other areas. Duke, which is headquartered in North Carolina, was considering sending repair crews from there.

Madison called in extra police officers, Police Chief John Wallace said.

City street department crews were cleaning up hundreds of downed limbs and trees that fell across almost every street in the city. Traffic at times was blocked between Madison and Kent, as well as on State Road 7 and other major and minor roads, by trees. Volunteer firefighters walked from block to block in downtown Madison offering help, Wallace said.

Workers from the sewage treatment plant were helping clean up, Armstrong said. And neighbors were helping neighbors with chainsaws, shears, hand saws and muscle.

"Our house is ruined," said Ben Clemens, whose home on the northwest corner of West and Third streets was sliced into by a large piece of a tree. He and his wife said all of the five rooms on the top floor were damaged..

Many old brick houses downtown were damaged, including Historic Madison Inc.'s Jeremiah Sullivan House on West Second Street, where a falling tree took off the top of the east side of the house. The Shrewsbury-Windle House also was damaged, and a tree crashed through the middle stained window on the Mulberry Street side of Christ Episcopal Church. Residences up and down Main Street and on the intersecting streets had trees and branches at odd angles through their roofs, windows and doors.

Metal roofs and shingles were blown off all over the city, and signs were tossed or turned over. A large metal trash bin was overturned next to Lanier Drive, and a portable toilet was overturned in the City Hall parking lot, with toilet paper flapping in the wind.

Most of the afternoon, the sound of metal resisting wind could be heard on the east end of downtown Madison for blocks from the Meese building on St. Michael's Avenue at Vaughn Drive. The former factory, whose windows had been removed months ago, lost most of its roof to the wind.

The wind also broke out windows of buildings. The glass door to the police department lobby blew out, and nearby to the west, the storm windows on the upper floors of Shipley's Tavern in the 300 block of West Street blew out, with glass getting blown as far as Main Street to the north and the alley next to The Courier to the east. Shipley's was lighted by candlelight in late afternoon and was planning to close early, owner Cris Sauer said.

Downed lines were across some streets or along the sides of others, and in some places they were hanging in the air. Electric lines that were pulled down in Milton, Ky., had frayed ends, which contributed to the bridge being closed when it was.

The Madison Courier, which has not missed a day of publication in its 171-year history, was put together by a staff of eight in a hotel suite in Columbus. Some staffers remained in Madison gathering information and using cell phones to relay the information. Today's edition was printed by the Columbus Republic.