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The Historical! “I’d Never” Bash on the Bay Storm!
A record-breaking storm hit the Lake Erie Islands on August 23rd in the middle of the two-day Bash on the Bay event. The first day of the Bash went off without a hitch in spite of rain falling a bit as the concert started. The rain started as fans left the airport and ended the next morning around 9 a.m.
The pouring rain, strobe-like lightning, booming thunder, and high winds were like no other storm the island has seen in recent history. The storm ended with estimates of 8 to 13 inches of rain, downed trees and limbs, flooded roads and basements, plus ponds in every low point spot on the islands.
Both Trenton Ave. and Mitchell Rd. were partly flooded. Crystal Cave was flooded with water pouring down the steps that lead down into the cave. Basements under the Reel Bar and the Forge were flooded. Even the police department in the town hall basement was flooded. Water covered the ballfield, breached the aquadam at Perry’s Monument, filled the parking lots at the Perry Holiday and behind Joe’s Bar and flooded many of the wooded areas around the island. The Put-in-Bay Yacht Club was flooded, in some spots ankle deep, and 15 boaters spent the night there finding whatever they could above the water to sleep on. So many residents had their basements flooded that there’s no room to mention them all. Most had never experienced any flooding before. Some of the Heineman Winery vineyards were flooded. One island resident posted, “Our yard is like a swimming pool, where it hasn’t flooded in over 50 years.”
The island police, EMS and firemen had no rest through the night. Somewhere around 20 calls came in during the night. They ranged from downed trees to helping boaters docked in the Bay. Terry Jenkins from Ohio Edison was out dealing with electrical outages. Township maintenance workers Jack Wertenbach and Jon Scarpelli were kept more than busy moving trees off the roads to keep them open.
It was difficult to find a street on the island that didn’t have downed trees or limbs. Numerous trees had to be removed to make roads passible.
The second day of Bash on the Bay was canceled due to the mess at the airport left by the storm. It didn’t take long for the security forces and vendors at the Bash to pull up stakes and head back to the mainland. Bash promoters said the show would not be rescheduled and arrangements for ticket reimbursement would be forthcoming.
Island weather guru Billy Market called the storm “historical” and mentioned that people were all starting conversations about the storm with “I never.” Some compared the storm to the one in 1988 that took down the old wooden water tower in the Village park or the 4th of July storm in 1969. Neither of those had the amount of rain that this one did.
On Thursday night, Mother Nature put a little icing on the cake with a severe squall with winds over 75 miles per hour. The storm didn’t last long, but hit DeRivera Park hard with multiple trees and limbs down. The electricity went out for several hours, only to be put back on by Terry Jenkins who worked through the night.
Similar storm stories came from each of the Lake Erie Islands. Dale Burris reported 100 mph winds on North Bass during the second storm, and says a tornado went through. Downed trees, limbs and wires were everywhere. A resident on Middle Bass also thought there was a tornado on East Point.
Over on Kelleys Island, someone posted this after the storm: “To those of you coming to visit Kelleys Island this weekend (and into the near future), please realize that many/most/all of the people that will be serving you in the bars, restaurants, shops, and stores live on Kelleys Island. They are dealing with a lot of issues and stress because of the weather the last couple of days. Please keep that in mind when you interact with them.”
These two storms will be talked about for years to come.
Putinbay.com is proud to present this Put-in-Bay Gazette article from the September 2023 issue.
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