CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team uncovered video showing the moment fierce winds snapped trees and damaged buildings in downtown Cleveland.
But, we also found what the storm left untouched. It left witnesses stunned and struggling to explain it.
A strong storm pushed through downtown late Thursday night into Friday morning. Security video captured the winds picking up until they finally took down a tree near Ontario and Lakeside outside the Cuyahoga County Justice Center.
The video also shows the rain pick up in intensity until it blurs the camera.
Friday morning, you couldn’t miss the destruction. But, somehow, the winds did not destroy what some folks describe as sacred ground. A police memorial at Huntington Park.
The storm left many trees heavily damaged with large limbs all over the park.
Yet, at the back of the park, we checked out the Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial, and we found it without a scratch.
Joe Mannion leads the Peace Officers Memorial Society.
“Miraculously there was no damage,” he said.
He told us when he first looked at the park after the storm, he never expected the memorial to still be standing.
“Makes me believe more in the faith that there is a power up above that knows what has to stay standing,” he said.
Then, consider what we saw looking around the justice center and what’s called the “old” courthouse. The complex includes city and county courts, offices, Cleveland police headquarters, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department headquarters, the county jail and more.
The storm left windows broken and blown out, ceilings damaged and other damage, too.
While it happened overnight, the justice center is busy 24/7, and a worker in the Cleveland Clerk of Courts office was almost hit by flying glass.
“We’re just glad nobody got hurt.” clerk’s office spokesman Obie Shelton said. “Someone was going to approach the window, but for whatever reason, she turned away from it, and that was when it burst out.”
Cuyahoga County crews quickly began work to keep the courts and offices open.
Matthew Rymer spoke for the Public Works Department.
“Our first order of business was to assess damage and then to make safe these areas, to make sure we can continue operations,” he said.
Outside Huntington Park, we noticed big limbs and debris blown all around the court complex, but we also noticed the garden behind the police memorial.
The storm did not destroy the flowers or even blow around the mulch. So, behind the clean-up, Mannion discovered what he considers a blessing.
“I could tell how this is sacred ground, and this is ground that’s sacred to the survivors,” he said.