An ultra high water day on the Lake Erie Islands is not only exciting and fun but frustrating, dangerous, unbelievable, expensive and more. April 14th and 15th qualified easily. The two days will be remembered for the winds from the northeast which brought the Lake Erie’s water
up to levels which many haven’t seen in years and most have never seen before. The high water storm was the second of the year but was even worse than the first back in March.
The lake level was already high on Friday, the 13th, as the wind blew out of the east, but by Saturday afternoon the wind was blowing hard and the water was rising and covering the pavement on Bayview Ave. in front of the Monument and by the Crew’s Nest, Put-in-Bay Yacht Club and Miller’s downtown ferry dock. If you were brave, you could navigate a regular car or minivan through the water, but as the night progressed the water rose even more and it took a large pickup to get by the Monument. Jared Dress will probably agree with that since his small car stalled before getting all the way across.
On Saturday night, Paul Lemmon from East Point and his fiancee Jacki Hupp decided not to attempt going home after a night of fun and ended up staying with Mike “Bud Light” Conshafter at his home on Concord Ave. In the morning, Kyle Wertenbach gave them a ride home. The same thing happened to Mark and Holly Kirsch from Chapman Rd. on East Point. They had dinner with Scott and Caroline Jackson and ended up staying the night at the Jackson’s wine cellar home near Put-in-Bay Airport.
One of the large Put-in-Bay fire engines made it across and back to handle an undisclosed “emergency,” and Marylou Ramsbottom reports she rode a backhoe from East Point to attend the Whiskey Light ceremony at the Round House Bar on Sunday afternoon. The Bathing Beach at the end of Delaware Ave. was a disaster area after the storm. It doesn’t make sense to do a lot of flower planting if there is another storm
that would just wipe everything out. Down at the Crew’s Nest, a “High Water” sign was put in the road to warn drivers, but no one got stuck there or further down the road around Squaw Harbor. Several floating dock sections stored along the shoreline were moved. Pinky’s Pond was filled to the brim, but Trey and Sara Booker Sheehan’s cottage by next East Point was just high enough off the ground and to be spared the mess of interior flooding.
Docks at the Aquatic Visitor Center, in front of Stone Lab on Gibraltar, and from Islands get a preview of 2018’s high water one end of the harbor was covered with water. After the water recedes, debris consisting of anything that floats, plus lots of stones and sand is left to be cleaned up. Out on East Point, the turn around at the end protected by those decorated blocks was deep in water and covered in stone and sand debris which had to be cleaned off the road with heavy equipment. East Point resident Glenn Cooper had seawall damage from the first spring storm. This second spring storm helped wash out even more of his seawall. Other low-lying properties on East Point were flooded.
There is erosion along Chapman Rd. on East Point, too. Over on Middle Bass, Deist Rd. which connects the main part of the island with East Point was flooded and only the brave dared to drive it. Several homes at Burgundy Bay were surrounded by water. No land was lost, but two seawalls were heavily damaged and will require expensive repairs. Most homes built in the floodplain were built high enough not to have any
water damage, but at least two of the older and lower ones had significant inside flooding. One ten feet long and three feet wide section of Deist Road on East Point washed out and has been repaired. On North Bass, Dale Burris reported erosion on the east side of the island was
so bad that he estimated 20 feet of land along a thousand feet of unprotected shoreline was lost. He estimated it was a loss of about three acres.
On Kelleys Island, Bruce Korenko came across several Lake Erie water snakes along the shore that didn’t survive the storm. The stuff that washes ashore during a storm sometimes makes one wonder what is out there in the lake. Barry Koehler (PUt-in-Bay High School Class of 2000) was out walking his two dogs, Charlie and Hazel, and came across the skeletal remains of some animal he didn’t recognize. Barry also rescued a water snake that lost its winter shoreline home to erosion. He took it to Kristin “The Snake Lady” Stanford so it
could recover from it the traumatic experience. Lisa Brohl went beach cleaning after the storm and commented, “With high water levels on Lake Erie shores we are seeing more than driftwood – much more plastic than I remember in the 80’s high water events.” For those who want
proof that the water in Lake Erie has been higher than this storm, Ma Werty dug out some of the old photos showing how high the water
was back in a storm in April 1974. In several photos she posted on Put-in-Bay Ohio Facebook, you can easily tell the water has indeed been much higher.
We’ve left the bad news for last. The Army Corps of Engineers, in its “Great Lakes Water Level Outlook” for April 2018, is showing in its range of possible outcomes a lake level that is a foot higher than what we had in April. If this prediction becomes reality, and we get a strong storm from the northeast like we did a couple of years ago during the summer, you can expect to see the highest water levels anyone alive today has ever seen. Let’s just hope these two factors don’t merge and create the perfect storm.