Turkeyfoot Lake Golf Links took the brunt of a storm that swept through southern Summit County on its way toward Stark. Here’s a is a look at the aftermath.
Turkeyfoot Lake Golf Links has offered retreat, scenery and connection to many thousands through a Great Depression, World War II and generations of assorted calamities.
Amid coronavirus-related restrictions, the old course had been going strong. Players gobbled up tee times 15 minutes apart, one cart per player.
Then the midnight storm hit.
According to the National Weather Service, "The tornado began in an area over Barberton, moved southeast through Green, and diminished west of the Akron-Canton Airport."
It seems, this twister picked a fight with Turkeyfoot.
The 27-hole layout sweetly nestled in the Portage Lakes advertises "gorgeous tree-lined fairways," routinely enjoyed by motorists because state Route 619 (Turkeyfoot Lakes Road) dissects the course.
No one was there to see it (unless an out-late traveler was on the road experiencing the ride of his life), but the tornado tore straight down the middle of Turkeyfoot's half-mile stretch of 619. Trees fell like dominoes in the dark, some ripped out by the roots, others losing branches big enough for King Kong ball bats.
Days passed. No injuries were recorded. Repercussions abounded.
While armies of heavy work trucks descended for cleanup, the stretch of road was barricaded until Friday. Word spread the course founded in 1925 had been ravaged. A traffic jam of tourists descended.
Residents of Lakeside Apartments, a short hike through the woods on the east edge of the course, enjoyed a calm Tuesday as darkness chased the golfers.
Gatherings have changed amid coronavirus concerns, but neighbors still convene on or near a large patio close to a grassy hill to watch their children play, and to eat, drink and talk.
Max Jacobs, an outgoing resident who seems to look after people, was up late. The air began to cool. Alerts went off on devices.
Residents appeared at their front doors at the old brick building, spreading the word to “get to the basement” on the apartment grounds.
Jacobs spoke from the patio Saturday of the scene that seized his attention.
"There was a table right there in the middle (of the patio)," he said. "It lifted up and started going in a circle."
He needed to see no more. By then, some stragglers were racing, not hurrying, to the basement. Jacobs sprinted to the L-shaped building to knock on doors and yell warnings before running for cover.
Another resident, Cecily Beaver, slept through the storm.
"I woke up at about 1 a.m. and it had passed by then," she said. "The next day I talked to people and looked around. It was like ... Armageddon."
A huge oak had crashed on the roof at a sideways angle. Nearby, a detached garage got ripped in two within several yards of a house.
"It sounded like a full-on train was going through here," Jacobs said. "A lot of people got to the basement. Probably about 30."
The night unfolded with no tornado touchdown for most of the populous residential area spotted around the Portage Lakes. But there was a tornado, or tornadoes. Grand sweeps of lightning behind cloud cover lit the twisters' 10-mile, 11-minute path, which according to the NWS began at 11:52 p.m. Tuesday and ended at 12:03 a.m. Wednesday.
"The tornado path became intermittent between Barberton and Green as it tracked southeastward," the NWS report says. "There was extensive damage to power lines, as well as trees uprooted and blown down. Several trees fell onto homes, outbuildings and cars."
Jacobs took it to a more personal level.
"A tree blew onto our road and blocked it for a couple days," he said. "We couldn't drive out (the complex is on a dead end). Our power was out for three days. We didn't get it back until Friday night.
"Because of the coronavirus, a lot of people here had just gone out and stocked up on food."
He began pointing to units of the apartment, naming some by number.
At a time when many have freezers full of food, "All of them lost a lot of food," he said. "Our landlord was good about helping people.“
On a nearby street, the front yards at two houses looked like a logging operation. Cleanup crews had spent the days after the tornado organizing downed trees into massive stacks of sawed timber.
Generators sold out at local hardware stores.
Meanwhile, the trees of Turkeyfoot Lake Golf Links took a major hit. Somehow, the course's clubhouse appeared untouched, 50 feet from where a pine the size the White House lawn Christmas tree lay sideways near a tee box, uprooted.
A longtime groundskeeper said a tree on the course's "water nine" got uprooted and brushed a large garage as it sailed over. A port-a-potty near the garage blew across a road, over a building, and lay on its side on hole No. 18.
The groundskeeper was reminded of a wind shear that rocked the course and its surroundings about 30 years ago.
The Upper Deck, a bar across the street from the course, was missing half a tree that took a tornado hit.
The tornado swept across holes No. 17, 18, 1 and 9, clipped off some big trees at the edge of a condominium complex (one tree fell on the side of a condo), and stopped short of a business area including Shaffer's Market, a CVS and a Buehler's.
By the weekend, golf balls filled the air. Both the North and South courses at Firestone Country Club, less than three miles from Turkeyfoot, were sprinkled with carts. The parking lot at Chenoweth, a nearby public course, was full, and the earliest available tee time was 4:30.
The Turkeyfoot groundskeeper surmised the cleanup had only begun. He laughed about a timetable. A message on the Turkeyfoot website says the course is "closed until further notice."
Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP