Belleville - One person was killed Thursday night when severe thunderstorms and winds swept through southern Wood County, ripping down power lines, overturning vehicles and leveling homes along W.Va. 68, a quarter mile south of the Belleville Homecoming grounds.

Wood County 911 center set up its mobile command unit near the former Humphrey School, which was being used as a triage center.

"We have one confirmed fatality right now, and the coroner has been called out," said Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy. "There is about a half-mile sweep of devastation we are just beginning to go through. Homes have been leveled to the ground. You would not believe the wreckage."

The name of the deceased male was not released Thursday night, officials said.

A spokesman at the National Weather Service in Charleston said it won't be known if a tornado struck Belleville until agency officials visit southern Wood County today.

The storm produced powerful winds with tornadic characteristics on the radar but damage patterns must be checked before a determination can be made, said NWS meteorologist Ken McGrath. He was unsure of wind speeds in the area at the time of the storm.

Athens County also was hit hard by the storm, which leveled buildings and homes.

Allegheny Power responded to the scene around 10 p.m. to cut the power to allow crews access to the homes along W.Va. 68. Emergency personnel responded to the scene at 8 p.m.

"Families have been gathering over at the school. Some of them have lost their homes, and are just devastated by the damage," said Sandy.

Around 11 p.m., around six people had been treated by EMTs from Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital for cuts and scrapes at the triage station, said Lubeck Fire Chief Mark Stewart.

The main area of Belleville affected by the storm was within a mile radius, from River Lane on W.Va. 68 to Lee Creek and Robinhood Road, said Stewart. W.Va. 68 was blocked from both the north and south.

"It's almost pitch black here. We've been using the light from the fire trucks to help us out," he said. "Basically we've been reorganizing our crews, trying to get in there and make a count of damages and find any injured people."

Responding agencies included Wood County Sheriff's Office, West Virginia State Police, Division of Natural Resources, American Red Cross, the Wood County 911 mobile unit, as well as Lubeck, Pond Creek, Blennerhassett, Vienna and Washington Bottom volunteer fire departments.

Power lines and mobile concession stand units set up for Belleville Homecoming were strewn along the campgrounds. The area was dark, with the only light coming from a backup generator set up at the former Humphrey School and lights from emergency vehicles.

Several people staying in the campground at the Belleville Homecoming site gathered in the former Humphrey School building, waiting to learn the fate of their campers and vehicles.

Tom Morehead lives in a trailer on the Belleville Homecoming grounds. He witnessed the windstorm and took shelter in the school about 100 yards from his residence.

"I was sitting in my trailer watching television, and I started seeing sparks up on the hillside," he said. "I ran for my truck, but when I started seeing debris flying up into the air, I jumped out of my truck and ran for the school."

Morehead suffered no injuries, but was treated by a nurse inside the school.

"I have no idea if my trailer is still sitting there. It could be smashed; it could have blown away," said Morehead.

Iris Smith said she heard a loud rumble and took shelter in the basement of her home at 10910 Harris Highway, next to Belleville Church of Christ.

"I kept seeing warnings on TV, and this rumbling noise kept getting louder. It might have been a tornado. I grabbed my cat and my purse and ran down to my basement," she said. "I've lived in that house for 40 years, and I can't ever remember being that scared. I've never had to hide in my basement before, that's for sure."

Allegheny Power reported 783 customers were without power Thursday evening in Wood County.

The storm leveled buildings and caused significant damage in Athens County, Ohio, at 7 p.m.

According to a news release from Athens County Emergency Communications, the path of the storm did significant damage to the Pine-Air Village Trailer Park in The Plains, as well as Athens High School, where 40 students were sheltered during the storm. The school's Basil Rutter Field reportedly sustained heavy damage.

The Autotech facility in the city of Athens was leveled by the storm, the release says. No injuries were reported at the site.

Fifteen homes were reported destroyed in the city of Nelsonville in Athens County, and three people were taken to medical facilities.

The Nelsonville Fire Department was performing house-to-house searches along the path of the storm around 10 p.m.

At least seven people were transported to O'Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens. Approximately 200 people were in need of shelter, the release says.

A National Weather Service official in Charleston said it was too early to tell if a tornado hit Athens County, although it was possible. Damage patterns will be checked today to make a determination.

The storm affected Meigs County as well, with several homes and trailers damaged in Reedsville, said a dispatcher. Only a few minor injuries were reported in Meigs County, but emergency crews were on the scene looking for residents in need of assistance.