Wednesday, July 8, 2009

40th Anniversary of July 4 Storm Passes Peacefully

Over the past July 4 weekend, an anniversary occurred that received little, if any, notice. It was the 40th anniversary of one of the worst storms to hit the area – the infamous July 4, 1969 storm. Those of us that were alive when it occurred will never forget it.
   According to newspaper accounts at the time, it was a real "killer storm" that smashed Northern Ohio with a total of 11 tornadoes, as well as thunderstorms and winds of up to 100 miles per hour. When it was over, nine people were dead and many were missing.  
   Now that's a storm. Vermilion seemed to be one of the hardest cities hit, with the Lagoons flooded and house trailers floating downstream towards Lake Erie. (See above photo courtesy of the Journal.)  
    Lorain experienced probably its worst storm since the 1924 tornado. The east side was the hardest hit, with huge trees down.
   The front page of the Journal on Saturday, July 5 summarized the storm damage. In Avon Lake, the Saddle Inn's porch roof had been lifted and dropped (see above photo courtesy of the Journal.) Avon Lake Drug had smashed windows and actually experienced some minor looting. In Avon, power was still out in half the city and basements were flooded.
   According to Ohio Edison, Sheffield Lake was the hardest hit city in their service area, with Lake Road closed in spots due to tree limbs and downed telephone lines blocking the road.
   Elyria's Cascade Park was flooded, with much concern there for the bears, who managed to ride out the storm in their cages.
   The main thing I remember about the storm is my family heading down to the basement when it got bad, and that it was truly terrifying. (I don't think I've been down in a basement during a storm since then.) I also remember that we drove over to Vermilion a few days later to check out all the flooding in Mill Hollow and over by McGarvey's.
   In an age when local TV meteorologists make a big deal out of every cloudburst, it's funny to think back about a real storm that instilled real fear.

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