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Strong storms pounded parts of metropolitan Toledo yesterday, flooding streets and basements, knocking down trees, and leaving thousands of people without power.
The first intense thunderstorm, which was in Lucas County, hit about 12:50 p.m. and produced wind gusts up to 60 mph and dumped 2 to 4 inches of rain in the downtown area, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland.
Another round of storms swept through portions of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan about 7 p.m., pelting some areas with hail, winds up to 50 mph, and heavy rains. The weather service reported downed trees and limbs in Perrysburg and Maumee.
A few streets in Toledo were blocked off to keep motorists from driving through deep water.
More than 3 feet of water and raw sewage flooded Montina Gordon s Floyd Street home in the city s Old West End, causing major damage to her basement. I ve lost everything down there again, she said last night.
Ms. Gordon said she s been a victim to flooding for years.
When it rains, it s like someone turns on a faucet and it runs into my basement, Ms. Gordon said. I m numb. I don t know what to do anymore.
The surge of rain earlier in the day overloaded some of the city s sewer systems causing waist-high flooding along parts of Franklin and Cherry streets near St. Vincent Mercy Medical Cen-ter, said Brian Schwartz, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner s spokesman.
It was more rain than the sewer system could handle that quickly, he said.
Police reported a purple Dodge Neon floating down Franklin Street with the driver trying to climb out of through a window.
A tree fell on top of a car on Berdan Avenue near Lockwood Avenue in West Toledo, temporarily trapping the driver, police said. Details on the driver were unavailable.
After the first storm, about 1,350 Toledo Edison customers were without power. Service was restored to those customers about 6:30 p.m., according to the company.
But three hours later, another 650 Toledo Edison customers lost power in a second storm. Of those, about 300 were in Sylvania, about 250 were in central Toledo primarily Oakwood and Hoag streets and the rest were scattered in the Old South End, Maumee, and Perrysburg. As of 9:30 last night, those customers remained without power.
City crews were dispatched to affected areas around the city yesterday afternoon to pump water, which was several feet deep in some areas, out of the streets.
Mr. Schwartz said water began draining from the streets once the rain stopped, indicating that the sewer system was working properly.
But the nearly 4 feet of water that flooded Ethel Edwards basement in the 2300 block of Franklin Avenue in Central Toledo told her that something is wrong.
Why is this happening? she asked, as she stood in her kitchen fighting back tears. This is a nightmare.
Ms. Edwards uses the basement in her two-story home as her main storage facility. The 49-year-old, who is on a fixed-income, bought a new washer and dryer less than a month ago.
Yesterday, the appliances were half submerged under brown, murky water along with winter coats, clothes, and several small appliances.
I m mad, she said sternly, with her hands placed firmly on her hips. Nobody can feel my heart, nobody.
Reacting to the soggy mess in her basement, Ms. Edwards said it ll be almost impossible to replace what she s lost.
I can t do it, she said.
Toledo Councilman Michael Ashford said there is help available for people such as Ms. Edwards.
Lucas County residents whose homes were damaged by the storm yesterday can apply for funds beginning today from the basement-flooding remediation program funded by the city .
The program previously provided up to $500 in reimbursement to city residents with basement-flooding problems, but homeowners now are eligible to receive up to $2,000 for damage caused by flooding and can call 419-245-1006 for information on how to apply for the funds, Mr. Ashford said.
The District 4 councilman spent hours talking to more than 100 people affected by the storms, he said.
It s very frustrating to go through this every time there is a downpour, Mr. Ashford said as he stood in the 2100 block of Glenwood Avenue visiting with a family who had water in its basement. The city was hit really hard today.
Mr. Ashford said many people use their basements as living quarters, house businesses in them, or use them as storage facilities.
Several streets in the Old West End flooded yesterday afternoon, temporarily shutting down the annual festival. Collingwood Avenue between Monroe Street and Woodruff Avenue and parts of Parkwood Avenue were under water.
Paul Gonzales of South Toledo, who was shopping for antiques at a porch sale on Parkwood Avenue, said festival-goers scattered when it started to rain.
It s a ghost town compared to yesterday, he said.
Bill and Marie Merrill of Maumee took shelter in the Collingwood Presbyterian Church when the storm hit. It was a real mess out here for a while, Mr. Merrill said.
Traci Edinger was driving through the Old West End festival yesterday selling ice cream before the storm.
Once it hit, she stopped working and began pushing out vehicles stranded in the flooded streets.
I knew my van could go through, the 32-year-old said.
After a failed attempt to push Willean McGee s sport utility vehicle out of the water-covered street, Ms. Edinger crawled in several inches of water to hook a cable to the front bumper. Ms. McGee, an Old West End resident, was heading home from church when she encountered deep water.
It s just the right thing to do, Ms. Edinger said as she stood dripping with water after pulling the vehicle and its driver to higher ground.
Staff writer David Yonke contributed to this report.
Contact Laren Weber at:email@example.com 419-724-6050.