Hundreds Flee Flooding in Ohio
Thursday, August 23, 2007
FINDLAY, Ohio, Aug. 22 -- Firefighters and volunteers steered boats through streets awash in waist-deep water Wednesday, plucking residents and pets from porches as flooding that has swamped the Upper Midwest and Plains reached Ohio.
The rising water forced at least 500 people forced to flee their homes in several northern Ohio towns. It also prompted authorities to move about 130 inmates from the county jail in Findlay to a regional prison.
Many neighborhood rescuers showed up with canoes and kayaks wanting to help during Findlay's worst flooding in nearly 100 years. Three men in a fishing boat ferried a woman and her 2-week-old daughter, along with the family dogs.
The Blanchard River was seven feet above flood stage Wednesday at Findlay, the highest level it has reached since a 1913 flood, and could rise another half-foot or more, the National Weather Service said.
The rain subsided by midafternoon, and forecasters issued a heat advisory for much of the state, with temperatures expected to hit the upper 90s.
In Bucyrus, 40 miles to the southeast, nearly nine inches of rain had fallen since Monday and at least 200 people were still out of their homes, the Crawford County Department of Emergency Management said.
"Reality is starting to set in about just how much damage there is in some of the flooded areas," said Tim Flock, director of the agency.
Gov. Ted Strickland (D) declared states of emergency in nine counties in northwest and north-central Ohio, including Crawford County and Findlay's Hancock County.
The death toll from two storm systems -- one that has spanned the Upper Midwest and another from remnants of Tropical Storm Erin in Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri -- reached 22 on Tuesday when searchers found the body of a man tangled in a tree near Lewiston, Minn.
Flooding also continued in northern Iowa as thunderstorms dumped more heavy rain across the already waterlogged region Wednesday. Three subdivisions along the Des Moines River near Fort Dodge were evacuated, and crews used rocks and sandbags to shore up a levee that had begun to give way, officials said.
The river crested at 14 feet, four feet above flood stage, and began a slow fall by midafternoon, to 13.2 feet, said Penny Clayton, a spokeswoman for the city. She warned of additional rain, though.
Thousands of homes were damaged in Wisconsin and Minnesota as the storm swept through.
On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called the governors of states affected by severe flooding, including Strickland, Brad Henry of Oklahoma, Matt Blunt of Missouri, Jim Doyle of Wisconsin and Chet Culver of Iowa. Chertoff conveyed the administration's sympathy for the loss of life and the destruction, expressed his willingness to assist as needed and reiterated the department's support of ongoing response efforts.