Tornado rakes Ohio lakeshore


OHIO (June 26, 1998) -- Jeff Krieger was on his way home from Toledo Wednesday night (June 24) when

he answered a cellular phone call from his family. The news: A tornado had

blown through their community, the power was out, and one of his sons was


Fortunately, all of his family was eventually located and none were

injured. But after navigating the back roads home to Oak Harbor in an

attempt to avoid downed power lines, he found his home was one of several

hundred damaged by the storm. Despite damage to his roof and contents and

finding his 17-foot motorboat flipped upside-down in the yard -- with the

trailer still attached -- Krieger said he felt fortunate.

One person died and at least 13 others were injured, several seriously, as

a result of the fast-moving tornado that plowed a narrow, 3.5-mile-long

path of damage through Ottawa and Sandusky Counties in Ohio. Governor

George Voinovich declared a State of Emergency in the area.

The David Bess Nuclear Power Station, near Oak Harbor, was shut down after

workers spotted a funnel cloud, and a number of transmission towers were

blown down, according to emergency management officials.

The tornado was a by-product of a severe supercell, described by a local

meterologist as a "hugh storm the size of a county." According to the

National Weather Service in Cleveland, the storm blew out of southeastern

Michigan across Lake Erie and then took a sudden, and unusual, turn due south

to make landfall -- right through the grounds of the nuclear plant. It

died quickly as it moved inland.

Ruth Dyke, public information director at the Ottawa County Emergency

Management Agency, said that early assessments indicated that 37 homes were

destroyed, with nearly 350 more damaged, in the two counties. Between 80 and 90 percent of the homeowners are believed to have insurance.

The most severe damage occurred in Carroll Township, where the F2 tornado

blasted the area with it 70 to 80-mph winds.The most seriously damaged

residential areas included a large number of seasonal lake-side resort

homes and condominiums, Dyke said.

"We are very fortunate that this occurred during the week and not on the

weekend, especially with the Fourth of July holiday weekend coming up," she


Other damage included campgrounds and marinas along the lake. Eric Islands

Resort in Bay Township reported 40 campers destroyed along with a pavilion

structure. Three tractor-trailers were also overturned on busy US 2 which

snarled traffic trying to leave busy Cedar Point Amusement Park.

While emergency officials still had some of the most devastated communities

closed to the public two days later, local churches and the Salvation Army

were assisting families whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the storm.

Jim Fitz, pastor of the Alliance Chapel in Oak Harbor, said Friday that his

congregation was one of those offering support to those who had suffered

serious property damage.

At Camp Perry, a historic Ohio National Guard camp in Port Clinton, nearly

10 buildings including a motel collapsed and many others were structurally

damaged, said Lt. Dan Tack, facility engineer. The camp is reorganizing so

normal operations can continue without the use of the destroyed buildings.

Severe weather caused more damage in the Midwest on Thursday when a tornado

in Janesville, Wis. destroyed three homes. Fortunately, there were no

serious injuries, said John Olson, director of Rock County Emergency


-- Daryl Lang and Jim Ketcham contributed to this report.

Posted June 26, 1998

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