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Published: Sunday, 7/16/2006

And you thought yesterday was unbearable

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dylan Coy, 12, left, of Maumee and Ethan Peters, 9, of Toledo float lazily in the pool at Maumee's Rolf Park. Yesterday's high was 92, and today's temperature is forecast to hover in the mid-90s. Dylan Coy, 12, left, of Maumee and Ethan Peters, 9, of Toledo float lazily in the pool at Maumee's Rolf Park. Yesterday's high was 92, and today's temperature is forecast to hover in the mid-90s.
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Before heading outside today, think of yesterday - only it will be hotter and more humid.

Hard on the heels of thunderstorms that led to more flooding in the region, the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for today because of a hot, humid air mass that's entrenched across the southern Great Lakes.

Add to that an Ozone Action! Day declaration for Lucas and Wood counties because the high temperatures, light winds, and other factors will produce conditions that could allow ozone emissions to exceed federally mandated standards.

Another heat advisory will likely be issued for tomorrow, and the heat and humidity will continue at least into midweek, the weather service said.

But the good news is it will stay dry.

Yesterday's high at Toledo Express Airport was 92, with a heat index of 95.

Today's temperatures in the mid to upper 90s, combined with high humidity, could result in heat indices between 100 and 105 degrees. The normal high temperature is 84. The record high for the date is 99, set in 1988.

The heat index is "basically how hot it feels," explained Tom King, a meteorologist at the weather service's Cleveland office.

Heat indices are calculated for shady areas with light winds and take into account both temperatures and humidity. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the indices 10 to 15 degrees.

"You don't take the temperature in direct sunlight, so you don't calculate a heat index there," Mr. King said. "If you're in the sun, it's going to be even hotter."

The weather could result in heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, and cold, pale, and clammy skin.

If it evolves to heat stroke, which can be considered a medical emergency, the skin becomes hot and dry, the pulse is strong and rapid, and there could be possible loss of consciousness.

If that occurs, "you want to immediately get out of the hot environment," said Dr. Greg Hymel, an emergency room physician at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. "The ideal thing would be to get out of the heat and get into a cool environment - air conditioning - and drink some fluids."

He said several people were treated yesterday at the hospital for heat-related illnesses.

Dr. Hymel said that days with high humidity put people at a greater risk for heat-related illnesses than days with just high temperatures.

"One of the best ways to cool the body off is perspiration and evaporation of that perspiration," Dr. Hymel said. "With high humidity, the amount of perspiration that evaporates decreases, and you decrease what cools the body off."

Children and elderly are more at risk for heat-related illnesses, Dr. Hymel said.

The Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio has set up emergency cooling centers where seniors can spend the afternoon in an air-conditioned location.

The East Toledo Family Center, 1020 Varland Ave., and Zablocki Senior Center, 3015 Lagrange St., will be open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today. The Margaret L. Hunt Senior Center, 212 Garden Lake Pkwy., will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The recent rain is part of the reason it will be so humid, Mr. King said.

"The ground is very saturated and there's a lot of water on the ground," he said. "We usually get really hot when the ground is dry. The sun has to evaporate the water before it starts heating up that area of the ground."

That was the case yesterday along Crawford Avenue in West Toledo, where thousands of sandbags snaked across lawns of dozens of homes.

Puddles lingered in some sections of the roadway. The neighborhood felt damp.

Dan Lemon's backyard was a muddy mess, with deep ruts across his lawn. City crews, he said, ran heavy equipment over the grass during efforts to keep Shantee Creek from spilling onto his property.

The equipment knocked down a portion of Mr. Lemon's fence. That means he must have his dog on a leash whenever the pet needs to go outside.

Piles of sandbags line the rear of his property. He figures that the sandbags will be there for months. "I don't think the city will take them away. I'll end up doing it," he said.

Mr. Lemon has lived on Crawford for six years. Although his home is situated in a floodplain, he hasn't had flooding problems until just recently. "I've had water in my house four times in 22 days," he said. On June 21, storm water flooded his place. "I had 7 1/2 feet of water in there," he said.

He and other Crawford residents said they are frustrated.

City officials, some residents said, have been giving different answers for the flooding problems each time another storm hits. The most recent "excuse," they said, was that there was some sort of bottleneck at a nearby railroad bridge that caused storm water to flow into their neighborhood.

Mr. Lemon's neighbor, Janys Etts, said it's time for the city "to stop the rhetoric and the excuses. It's time for the city to show me a game plan and show me the money" to fix the problems and prevent future flooding.

Instead of building bike paths, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner should use the funds to make sure taxpayers' homes aren't swamped with stormwater, she said.

Mr. Finkbeiner, who spent the better part of yesterday visiting areas hit hard by flooding, said he concluded that although water levels are receding, the city has much work ahead to prepare for future rainfalls.

He said the city would begin assigning between 25 to 50 municipal workers to inspect area ditches, streams, creeks, and storm drains, and remove any debris blocking them. "There will not be a shortage of manpower."

In addition, Mr. Finkbeiner said the city is hiring an engineer from Arcadis FPS to develop a plan for "major engineering alterations" to areas in the sewer system. The mayor said he did not know how much the city would pay for the services but added that he hopes a plan can be ready in 15 to 30 days.

Meanwhile, Bonnie Kalka, 42, said her husband, Tim, is doing better at Toledo Hospital, and that doctors are hoping he will soon be healthy enough to stop using a respirator.

Mr. Kalka, 47, is battling septic pneumonia, which Mrs. Kalka believes he acquired from the raw sewage fumes that filled the basement of their Crawford Avenue home after the June 21 flood.

Tomorrow, Toledo City Council members plan to help residents with online applications for federal recovery assistance at two Toledo-Lucas County Public Library branches. From 10 a.m. to noon, they will be at the Reynolds Corners branch, 4833 Dorr St., and from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Point Place branch, 2727 117th St.

Volunteers with Lucas County's Community Emergency Response Team plan to continue going door-to-door today through the areas most affected by the flood to check on residents and ensure that they are registered for federal flood assistance. The volunteers will be wearing lime-green vests.

And here's a thought that might keep you cool.

If the 9.6 inches of rain that fell on the Toledo area since June 1 were snow, about eight feet of the cold, white stuff would blanket the area.

Blade staff writers JC Reindl and Janet Romaker contributed to this report.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com or

419-724-6050.



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