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The Storm of Independence Day

I can't think of a Memorial Day weekend or Fourth of July that I didn't dream about being at Lakeside. My Lakeside memories are many. My family has been making the summer pilgrimage to Lakeside since before I was born! We always pulled a camper and parked in the camping area, I don't know if that's still at the top of Central Ave.? Anyway it was July 4, 1969. I was a curious 6-year-old who ran down to the dock after the show at Hoover Auditorium because I heard some of the big kids talking about the monster title waves smashing the dock to pieces. Knowing that the high winds caused the fireworks to be canceled, the claims of title waves seemed credible to me. When I saw the raging lake I thought for sure God himself found out that my cousin and I were throwing rocks at the bell earlier that morning and had lied about our whereabouts. Just about the time I was headed onto the dock, my older sister found me and informed me I was dead meat for running away to the dock. Just as we were making the endless trek up Central, deafening claps of thunder, hurricane winds and torrential rain started. The sky was electrified and had an eerie yellow hue to it. Never was I so scared of a storm in all my life, I confessed of my rock throwing sins as soon as I returned to the camper. My parents didn't seem to care because the storm was now in full rage! They were busy scurrying about battening down the camper and our camp gear. My confession paled in significance to the storm. I got in the camper quickly fell asleep. As any true Lakeside veteran knows, a day of play at Lakeside has that affect on little boys. Yes, I slept through the worst storm in Lakeside history! Below is a little blurb I found on the net about that night.

The most devastating summer flooding in Ohio history struck north-central Ohio during the state's stormiest Independence Day. Severe thunderstorms moved from Lake Erie into North Coast communities at about 8 p.m. on July 4, 1969. This line of storms became nearly stationary for eight hours from Toledo southeastward through Fremont, Norwalk, Ashland and Wooster. Flooding, winds up to 100 mph, tornadoes and lightning caused 41 deaths and injured over 500 people. More than 10,000 homes were damaged and 104 small businesses were destroyed. Severe weather developed over Lake Erie after 6 p.m. and moved southward toward the Ohio shore with strong winds, heavy rain, and intense lightning. Several people were killed by falling trees. Most of the hundreds of small pleasure boats anchored along Lake Erie made it safely to shore but U.S. Coast Guard ships rescued 100 boaters. Four boaters drowned. Most of the damage from the July 4th storm resulted from extreme rainfall that fell overnight. Total rainfall was 10-14 inches from Ottawa County to Wayne County. On the flat, poorly drained land of Ottawa and Sandusky Counties, fields were flooded as far as the eye could see. Record floods were reached on the Huron River, the Vermilion River and the Black River. Most sections of Ashland and Wayne Counties were flooded and isolated for two days after the flood. Killbuck Creek in Holmes County rose 20 feet to its highest level known.

Rich Jones
Killeen, TX

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