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Published: Tuesday, 4/1/2008

Ground is like a sponge after 2nd snowiest March

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Shelley Deiley is heartsick about the water standing over her husband David's grave at Ottawa Hills Memorial Park. Shelley Deiley is heartsick about the water standing over her husband David's grave at Ottawa Hills Memorial Park.
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The sodden aftermath of Toledo's second-snowiest March on record rippled with the breeze yesterday and shimmered in reflections of the overcast sky.

But finding one of these ubiquitous standing puddles overtop the grave site of her 23 years-deceased husband, David, was troubling for Shelley Deiley of Point Place. His ground-level grave marker was among dozens that had become submerged at Ottawa Hills Memorial Park cemetery.

"Would you want your family underwater?" Mrs. Deiley said as cemetery workers shoveled dirt onto another swamp-like grave site. "It looks like something out of Stephen King."

Last month's 17.4 inches of snow, the most in March since 1993, also have taken their soggy toll on area golf courses.

"The ground is so saturated right now, you walk and it's like a sponge," said Bill Johnson, assistant manager at Ottawa Park Golf Course.

What are course groomers to do in such circumstances? According to Mr. Johnson, wait it out as best you can. "The snow just melted, plus you have the rain, so the water really has no place to go," he said.

Toledoans aren't alone in being waterlogged: a rising water table has flooded a 10-block area of Bellevue on the Sandusky-Huron-Erie-Seneca county lines, said Bill Ommert, director of the Huron County Emergency Management Agency.

One-year-old Sophie Gibson, left, and her twin sister, Bailey, are reflected in the standing water beneath them as they are pushed on the swings at Wildwood Preserve
Metropark by their mother, Sara, of Toledo. The ground in northwest Ohio and elsewhere in the state has been
saturated by the near-record snowfall this winter, and forecasters are calling for rain this morning, Thursday, and Friday. One-year-old Sophie Gibson, left, and her twin sister, Bailey, are reflected in the standing water beneath them as they are pushed on the swings at Wildwood Preserve Metropark by their mother, Sara, of Toledo. The ground in northwest Ohio and elsewhere in the state has been saturated by the near-record snowfall this winter, and forecasters are calling for rain this morning, Thursday, and Friday.
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The flooding has affected more than 100 homes, with basement water as deep as eight feet in areas, Mr. Ommert said. Some residents have been evacuated, he said.

And all this, just in time for April showers: The National Weather Service says possible thunderstorms this morning could add to a half-inch rainfall expected overnight.

A wind advisory for northwest Ohio also is in effect until 8 p.m. tonight, with possible gusts up to 50 mph. Forecasters expect more showers Thursday, Friday, and early next week.

Flood warnings remained in effect for the Tiffin River near Stryker, Ohio, and the St. Joseph River in far northwest Defiance County, though the flooding is expected to be minor.

Snowfall for the winter is at 58.1 inches in Toledo, the sixth-heaviest since record-keeping began in the late 1800s. By 5 p.m. yesterday, 11.56 inches of precipitation, including the water content of snow, had fallen at Toledo Express since Jan. 1. That's 5.13 inches above normal for the period.

David Leffler, director of public utilities for Toledo, said despite the melting snow, the city has dodged the sort of heavier flooding that plagued it during the summer of 2006. But there are many puddles.

"The ground can only absorb so much," Mr. Leffler said.

Cresting rivers downstate in recent weeks forced some Ohio residents to flee their homes, and flooded highways outside Columbus. During a February flood, parts of Findlay were under water for days.

Back in northwest Ohio, golf courses at Brandywine and Toledo country clubs and at Detwiler Park continue to suffer.

"There are a lot of areas that are not draining, and I think it's because the water is so high everywhere," Detwiler's general manager Lynne Murnan said.

For Tom Wiland, general manager of Toledo Country Club, the metaphorical glass was still half-full.

"I guess it could be worse. We could be in Findlay," he said.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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