Memorable Events List

Storm of 1993

Rerinted from “Bratenahl Lamplighter” published by the Bratenahl Community Foundation, September 1993.

When the Sky Turned Black

The storm that hit Bratenahl on July 28 at 6:45 pm was considered the worst in the memory of many older residents. Almost overshadowed by news of tremendous floods in the Mississippi Valley, the near hurricane will be remembered for a lifetime by those who ran for shelter in their basements as the sky suddenly turned black, were caught on the freeway with tops of trees hurtling by, or returned to their homes from work to find their streets blocked by a tangle of limbs, uprooted 100-foot trees and tangled live electric wires. Some houses, stores, and office buildings in the area were without power for a week. The blackout covered the eastern part of Cleveland to the borders of Geauga and Lake counties, along the Lake and as far south as Shaker Heights and Moreland Hills.

The cleanup began immediately, with Villagers gathering outside their homes and helping each other cut and drag away branches, making coffee, and serving hot food. Along the streets from the Navy Finance Center to 105th Street, huge trees were down across Lake Shore Boulevard every ten feet. The next day, emergency crews came in – the Service Department, the Brook Park unit of the National Guard, crews from O.D.O.T., C.E.I., Bedford, Parma, and private contractors. The destruction was so extensive that even now in September tree trunks and branches still line the roadways awaiting removal. According to Charles Irish, who owns a tree service, he may have to wait a year for his turn for a cleanup.

Storm of 1993
Storm of 1993 1

Here are some quotes from Bratenahl residents who were there. We cannot record everyone’s experience, and while each was unique, they had much in common.

Vicki Lee: “I heard rain, not the wind, but when I looked out my window, all I could see was a tangle of trees – 47 downed in the yard, one against the house, and another across one of our cars.”

George Landis: “We lost nine trees, the roof was badly damaged and will be expensive to repair. All our appliances blew out when the electricity went back on and a surge was caused by a broken ground wire.”

Michael McKinnon, owner of 16-acre former Norweb property: “We lost 40 trees, 90-135 years old. The big oak 350-375 years old was damaged. Several buildings were damaged, the patio, the veranda, the chimneys on the guest house. An American Beech near the guest house was uprooted. It has now been uprooted, along with four other trees. John Keneven, the gardener on the estate for 24 years, confirmed seeing a tornado go through when a 120-year-old oak was lifted up in the air, held in suspended animation, and then toppled. Three 45-year-old Dawn Redwoods about to bear cones, similar to the one at Holden Arboretum, were lost.”

Michelle Orndoff, a staff member at Shoreby Club: “I saw two water spouts coming toward the club from the northwest. I hurried for cover just as all the deck furniture swirled up in the air and landed in the pool. A large oak in front of the Club was uprooted and fell toward the building breaking only a couple of windows and some glass tabletops.”

Patrolmen Mike Corsillo and Kevin Gaul: “We were breaking up a fistfight on the I-90 freeway when we looked up and saw waterspouts swirling all over the Village.”

Mary Kuhen: “Two huge oak trees fell in front of the Center, one across the door, so I had to climb through the branches to get inside. On Foster, a large tree bent over, denting the siding and breaking windows in front of the house, and then bent back up again.”

Donna Bloom-Schwartz: “The storm came and swooped the water out of our swimming pool, 30,000 gallons of it. A next-door neighbor’s windows were broken and the furniture damaged. The man who came to clean the carpeting asked, ‘How did this carpet get bleached?’ It must have been the chlorine from our pool.”

John and Ann McAllister, the Bratenahl Place: “The large window by our grand piano rattled, but did not break. One of the units below us had a patio window blow out and furnishings in the living room were destroyed.”

Fred Ball, Bratenahl Place: “High winds of the storm took out the beautiful old willow trees beside the swimming pool, and a big tree wrecked a section of the iron fence on the Boulevard. It was a frightening wind, but we felt safe and secure in our well-built building as we watched the storm come in over the lake and sweep around us. It was quite an experience.”

Jim Andeen of Coit Road: “When the sky turned black, I was in my yard by the pool. I’d just said to my neighbor, Jim Collura, ‘Did you ever feel anything hotter than this day?’ and we looked up to see the sky suddenly dark with a yellow-green glow behind it. After that, all hell broke loose. I saw the tops of 100-foot oaks bending almost to the ground. I lost seven large trees and a neighbor’s trees snapped about 30 feet up, sending limbs down, crushing my utility barn. Another fell across my yard into my pool, where I had been sitting only moments before. Yet across the street, my opposite neighbor lost only a single limb.”

Harry Rockwood, Continental Management reported: Newport: Haskell: a tree fell on bedroom roof, 5 units: $1,000 damage each, 19 trees down.

Oakshore Green: $25,000 worth of damage including 6 trees (one large oak at the entrance), 19 patio fences, 2 roofs, 2 patio doors, 5 decks, 1 roof and bedroom, 3 windows, 480 feet of gutters.

Bourne Dempsey: “I realized the wind was unusually high, but no trees went down in my yard. Unfortunately, my neighbor, Chuck Baurenschmidt, lost 6 large trees. Ironically, two of his trees that were diseased were left standing.”

With all the destruction, providentially nobody in Bratenahl was injured; just left in a state of shock. We all feel a deep sense of loss, and will miss our beautiful old green canopy.