The white hurricane left devastation and death
(Continued from last week)
The front page of The Bellevue Gazette from Jan. 27–28, 1978, the day of the “great blizzard of 78” gave this vivid description of the storm:
“The worst blizzard in memory of most has stunned Bellevue and Northwest Ohio with its destructive fury. The area is just beginning to dig out from under the coating of snow and ice that brought transportation to a standstill, left many homes without power and heat for days, and caused the deaths of eight people in the area.
It started in the early hours of Thursday morning with weird lightning and rain. The wind picked up and the rain quickly turned to snow as the temperature plummeted. For a while before dawn, the driving snow was illuminated by the lightning.
By daybreak, it was impossible to see more than a few feet ahead and one life had already been lost. The snow and wind just kept on coming, sealing Bellevue off from the rest of the world.
Emergency shelters were set up for people driven from their homes because of the lack of heat. Many residents with heat in their homes took in neighbors who had none.
Red Cross personnel and community volunteers set up cots and served food as safety forces brought people from their homes to the shelters.
Several restaurants were providing food free to displaced Bellevueans.
By Friday morning drifts as high as 12 feet were sealing off the highways outside of town. But the wind had died down a bit making it possible for heavy equipment crews to begin pushing the snow aside so more stranded people could be brought to shelter.”
The Bellevue Gazette published two papers in one issue as residents remained housed in special shelters. Most of Bellevue was still without power. The schools had missed a total of 13 days due to weather conditions, eight over the limit allowed by the state.
For many years residents recalled their own experiences of those fateful days, shuddering as they remembered the chilling winds, the blasting snow which never stopped blowing, the huge drifts, the numbing cold and loss of electric power and often of heat, and the feeling of helplessness as they realized how quickly the area could become paralyzed.
When the storm diminished on Friday afternoon, it left in its wake eight victims in this area, including three in the immediate vicinity of Bellevue.
There possibly could have been more but for people helping people. Electric power which started going out early Thursday morning left many people without heat. Over 600 people were evacuated and brought to shelters set up at the Immaculate Conception School, the Industrial Savings and Loan, and the Eagles Club.