CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio-- An intense pop-up thunderstorm Tuesday afternoon that brought torrential rain and hail to Northeast Ohio caused some of the worst flash flooding since 1994 in parts of Geauga County.
At least two inches of rain fell in less than an hour, turning creeks into raging rivers and yards into little lakes.
The rushing, rising waters caused multiple streets to be closed to traffic across Chagrin Falls until late into the evening.
“It’s just amazing because it all happened so quickly,” said Abbey Baker, who had to quickly pick up her children from the Chagrin Valley Roller Rink on South Main Street, after muddy water flooded the front of the building.
Fortunately, employees were able to protect the recently refinished, beautiful hardwood skating rink, but they said they’d be cleaning up the snack area and bathrooms all night.
Multiple businesses sustained water damage, as did many homeowners.
Lake Lucerne overflowed its banks and actually seemed to swallow up the beach; and according to authorities threatened the breach or break the damn.
The rushing water turned Westhill Drive into a river and buckled huge sections of the road.
Rescue squads from different communities pulled together their resources to respond to all of the emergency calls.
Chagrin Falls Assistant Fire Chief Mark Vedder says there were structural collapses reported in Pepper Pike and Aurora.
“I’ve been on the job 40 years this is one of the worst storms I’ve seen,” said Vedder.
But perhaps some of the worst damage occurred at the home of Michael and Betty MacIver on Elm Court. While Betty was inside the home checking the basement for possible flooding, 51 inches of water that had been pressing against the home burst through the basement wall.
“All of the sudden a big whoosh and I saw the wall give way and water coming toward me and all these things flying at me,” said Betty.
An entire section of the brick foundation collapsed and anywhere from 4 to 5 feet of water filled the basement with such force it ripped the washer and dryer from the wall.
Betty says she was worried about the gas lines, but barely had time to run up the steps before the large appliances came sailing toward her.
She says her instincts kicked in and she escaped unharmed but they won’t be returning to the home any time soon. Firefighters turned off the utilities and secured the property from further collapse, but it’s currently uninhabitable.
However, Betty and her husband weren’t complaining Tuesday night; instead they were counting their blessings along with many other people who not only weathered but survived the storm.
Betty explained it this way, “You know when people say they’re grateful…and everyone goes okay that’s fine, that’s nice – well it’s really true! You’re really glad you’re in one piece!”