This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Great Blizzard of 1978, which killed 51 Ohioans and caused $100 million in damage across the state.
The storm “halted man and beast and most man-made modes of transportation,” the front page of the News-Times lamented in the following week’s edition.
Snowmobiles were pressed into service in Amherst as emergency vehicles. Two, manned by Guy and Curt Reph and their friend Tom Stafford, helped ferry a woman with pneumonia and her baby with a temperature of 102 degrees to the hospital.
The trio worked with police and firefighters. “They rushed insulin to diabetics, got prescriptions to patients at their homes, and delivered milk, bread, and food to a host of families,” the paper reported.
While the storm shut down every business in town, Amherst Hospital remained open.
“Despite the hazardous weather, babies were born, sick people were admitted, surgery was performed, and health care services were provided as usual” as doctors and nurses pulled double shifts, according to the News-Times.
Our sister newspaper in Oberlin reported “a hurricane wind with gusts to 90 mph” that arrived around 5 a.m. and caught Lorain County off guard.
For the most part, residents were snowed in for the following 36 hours. Roads closed. Vehicles were left stuck on the highways, trees were felled and power lines were snapped. The Red Cross set up emergency shelters to help those left without heat.
Also known as the White Hurricane, the blizzard remains the highest-ranking winter storm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Like with hurricanes, the NOAA assesses winter storms on a scale from Category 1 to Category 5. The Blizzard of 1978 was measured at more than twice the power needed to qualify as a Category 5 event.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
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