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Strong winds, heavy rain bring tumultuous start to Memorial Day weekend

Posted at 10:50 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 23:34:05-04

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — Gale-force winds, torrential rain and flooding impacted lakeshore communities from Port Clinton to Ashtabula on Friday, bringing a soggy and stress-filled start to the holiday weekend.

The strong weather system toppled trees and downed powerlines across several counties, knocking out power for tens of thousands of customers all along the Northcoast. As many as 21,000 customers were without power in Cuyahoga County Friday afternoon. Port Clinton, which was rocked by strong winds and widespread flooding, declared a state of emergency after many roads became impassable.

In Put-in-Bay, Jason Pappazi and six friends, spent the day constantly adjusting their boat's dock lines as water levels rose higher and higher.

"Every now and then we have to go out and tie up different lines and change. We're trying to make the best of it," Pappazi said. "It's been highly anticipated to come here. That's why we left Wednesday night because we knew the weather was going to be somewhat bad but not as bad as it actually is."

Several of Pappazi's friends and family members were set to travel to the vacation hotspot but were left on the mainland when the gale warnings stopped ferry service. The logistical disruption could put the rest of their vacation plans in jeopardy.

"There is absolutely nobody boating today. Everybody is hunkered down and sitting in at docks right now," Pappazi said. "We had people that were coming still via car and they actually rented rooms on the island. They can't get to the island. They're saying the ferries until maybe tomorrow but they still don't know yet."

Elsewhere around Northeast Ohio, Port Clinton on Friday afternoon declared a Flood Disaster State of Emergency until further notice. City officials said in a news release that several roads were under water and that man holes and catch basins had become dislodged, which could cause hazards for pedestrians. All drivers are asked to stay off the roads until further notice. Streets and nearby docking areas at Fisherman's Wharf were flooded.

The Put-in-Bay Police Department posted on Facebook photos of officers rescuing stranded passengers from floodwaters. In the post, police said the fire department reported water as high as 40 inches near Perry's Monument. The Grande Parade scheduled to happen during the Port Clinton Walleye Fest has been canceled. Main Street Port Clinton said the city is working to determine if it can be rescheduled.

Although the wind and rain have brought a tumultuous start to their holiday vacation, Pappazi and his circle of friends are trying to make the best of it.

"It's been a long day but it still beats a day at the office. That still holds up for me," Pappazi said.

RELATED: Cedar Point closes early. State of Emergency in Port Clinton. Thousands without power.