There Was Trouble in River City

This article appeared in the July 9, 1969 issue of The Reporter, Huron’s weekly newspaper. Another major article was “Woman Swims Four Miles to Save Herself” and an editorial, ” A Disgraceful Non-Performance” prompted by a storm that struck during primetime television and many chose to ignore the devastating storm going on.

They said it could never happen again-they said the storms that caused flooding in Huron in July 1966 were freak phenomena. Well, they goofed!

A vicious storm roared into Northern Ohio about 8:00p.m. July 4 and also drenched the area with water–10 inches in eight hours–it finally blew out into the lake, leaving thousands of dollars of damage and a heavy loss of life.

As the water fought its way to the lake, it flooded all areas along the river and turned streams, creeks, and even ditches into raging torrents that respected neither property nor life.

River Road was completely closed and at Franklin Flats, many campsites were inundated. Over 200 of these campers were evacuated by various means, including an army duck, and brought to two Red Cross shelters set up in Huron at the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, under the direction of Rev. George Bell, head of the local disaster unit of the Red Cross.

Most marinas along the river were destroyed along with many boats and about 25 cars that were covered by the raging waters.

Thousands of sightseers poured into Huron over the weekend to view the debris-laden river sweeping everything it met into its path.

The Beachwood Cove area fared much better in this storm and although there was water in some basements, it was nothing like the damage sustained in 1966.

Several homes on Bogart Road, west of Main Street, were completely flooded. One family of seven, including five children, had to be evacuated during the storm. Water in these homes reached a height of 14 feet, completely submerging the basements and reaching up to a level of four feet on the first floors.

Bogart Road was isolated for 14 hours due to a back-up in two places. A 50-year-old culvert beneath the railroad tracks became plugged and a lake formed to the south of the tracks that was 200 yards wide and 30 feet deep.

Many boats were washed ashore on Sunday and looters were stripping the beaches as fast as the debris washed in.

Thirty to forty boats are still adrift in the lake and chances of them returning intact are growing thin.

“We’re in good shape now,” said Police Chief Louis Wargo Monday afternoon. “About 90% of the power in the city has been restored and with the hundreds of thousands of dollars of property damage here, we are fortunate to have no loss of life in the city.”

Fire Chief Phil Thomas had many words of praise for his men and their actions over the weekend. “They did a lot of work that you couldn’t have gotten anyone else to do under these circumstances,” he said.

The monumental task of returning some semblance of normalcy to the area now begins. This is one Fourth no one will ever forget, even though we’d like to.