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One of the most devastating storms in Northeast Ohio History turns 50, residents remember it well

July 4 storm
Posted at 6:02 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 20:36:42-04

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — July 4, 1969 is a day burned into the memories of Northeast Ohio residents forever.

"I was in Avon Lake at my grandmother's house and my sister and I were looking out this big picture window and we saw this grass swirling around in the front lawn," said Kim Campbell.

Campbell says she remembers her grandmother's next words clearly.

"My grandmother said, lets go into the basement now," said Campbell.

It was just before 8 p.m. on Independence Day when 80-100 mile per hour winds slammed into Lakewood, this was just as Tom Senko was driving to the fireworks show

"When the storm came I put the kids on the floor of the car and like an idiot watched what was going on and of course glass was coming out of windows," said Senko.

The damage was felt all across Northeast Ohio but especially at Lakewood Park, when hurricane force winds came rolling in and sent over 100 trees toppling down this just as thousands of people gathered to watch the fireworks.

Several people were killed from the falling debris, some of them just kids.

But things didn't stop there. The storm made its way south to Akron and Canton, slamming the area with 10-14 inches of rain.

Cars and houses were underwater and even more people lost their lives.

"The Vermilion river overflowed and there was actually houses and boats stuck up against the bridge," said Ray Hatch.

"A lot of the boats and stuff from the marina's couldn't get out into the lake so they smashed up against all the bridges because the rivers got up so high there was no place for them to go," said Theresa Helen Hatch.

Ray Hatch and Theresa Helen Hatch remember the flooding well. They met just a few days after the storm and married later that year, so for them 1969 is truly unforgettable even 50 years later.