Thousands remain in the dark after strong winds caused severe damage in communities around Northeast Ohio on Wednesday afternoon.

As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, FirstEnergy’s outage map showed more than 25,000 were still without power.

Officials said some areas could be without power until Saturday, March 11.

FirstEnergy Spokesman Mark Durbin said crews initially worked to address the hundreds of downed power lines that were first reported, with a goal of making sure there is “no hazard from downed electric lines.”

On Wednesday, more than 100,000 customers were without power.

Some residents at Timber Top Apartments in Akron were among the thousands who woke up without power on Thursday morning.

“I really don’t want to open [the refrigerator], but I guess it’s already rotten,” said Stephanie Herritt-Ward.
Herritt-Ward said the power immediately went out when she first heard a strong gust of wind move through.

She anticipated that the power would be back on the next morning, but quickly found out it wasn’t the case.

Like others, she began preparing for an extended period of darkness, visiting a local shopping center to grab some items for her children.

Herrit-Ward has a daughter with severe autism. She says her daughter struggled with the hours-long darkness.

“She screams, she cries.”

Her daughter also has a fear of fire.

Instead of candles, the family turned to flashlights and a lantern for help.

Jan Fowler, who uses a motorized wheelchair, lives just a couple of doors down.

“I’m unable to charge my wheelchair up. I’m just about out of power.”

Just moments after our interview, the power was back on for the families. But others across the area remain in the dark.

With the expected colder temperatures, cities are responding by opening warming shelters.

The city of Stow opened its Stow Senior Center as a warming center for families and seniors without heat.
Residents in Akron are also welcome to warm up at area community centers during open hours.

Click here to find the full list.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross is also monitoring the situation to determine the need for warming shelters. Individuals and families are encouraged to call the Red Cross for assistance.