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Ohio spared major floods; River Raisin heads higher Sylvania Country Club was underwater Wednesday after heavy rains inundated the region Tuesday. The storm dumped 3.02 inches of rain at Toledo Express Airport Tuesday through Wednesday morning.
Sylvania Country Club was underwater Wednesday after heavy rains inundated the region Tuesday. The storm dumped 3.02 inches of rain at Toledo Express Airport Tuesday through Wednesday morning.
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Published: Thursday, 12/1/2011

Ohio spared major floods; River Raisin heads higher

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Area rivers in northwest Ohio crested at slightly lower-than-expected levels, which eased fears Wednesday of catastrophic flooding. But icy water still overwhelmed some roadways, and some homeowners were dealing with the aftermath of the heavy rainfall.

In nearby Michigan, though, many residents were still waiting for rivers to crest Wednesday night, including in Blissfield, where high water from the River Raisin caused the closure of U.S. 223.

The river there was expected to crest more than 3 feet above flood stage Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Detroit. Dundee residents also were bracing for a river crest, and village officials were planning to make sandbags available to residents Thursday.

In Adrian, the River Raisin was up to bridges on Michigan Avenue and Church Street, prompting closures of those streets Wednesday, according to the Adrian Fire Department.

Wind and water Tuesday, meanwhile, caused siding to fall from a building's brick wall in the 100 block of West Maumee Street in Adrian. No one was injured, but a car parked nearby was damaged, according to the fire department.

In Ohio, the mix of snow and ice contributed to a crash on I-75 in Allen County that killed a 58-year-old man.

David Spire, of Fostoria, was pronounced dead at the scene of four-vehicle crash just after 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

The rainstorm also left a Defiance County woman clinging for her life on top of her vehicle Tuesday night. A Defiance County sheriff's office sergeant and a highway worker made a harrowing rescue of Ann Mallet, 34, of Sherwood, Ohio, whose car had been swept away by high water.

Ms. Mallet was stranded on her vehicle at Coy Road north of Mud Creek in Delaware Township, said Defiance County Sheriff Dave Westrick.

Authorities located her by using global positioning technology. "Without that technology, we would have never found her in time," Sheriff Westrick said.

She was in the water for more than 20 minutes before Sheriff Officer Sgt. Steve Flory arrived. The sergeant tied a rope around his waist and used a life jacket to swim to the woman.

"At one point they went under but they were pulled out with the rope," Sheriff Westrick said.

County highway employee Matthew Grine was at the other end of the rope pulling the two to safety, he said.

The woman and the sergeant were treated at Defiance Regional Medical Center.

In West Toledo, homes were flooded, and crews were busy overnight Tuesday trying to pump water back into already overflowing ditches and waterways.

While western city neighborhoods were hardest hit, there were high-water areas across the city.

The city fielded 254 complaints -- which include more than 150 people calling about flooded homes -- between Monday night and Tuesday night, said city spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei.

Fulton County was among those areas besieged Tuesday night by floodwater, but things were drying out by late Wednesday morning, said Rich Kilgour, the county's 911 coordinator.

"Today is not too bad; yesterday, it would be easier to tell you what parts were dry," Mr. Kilgour said. "We had something like 50 different areas where water was across the road. Every state route in the county was closed at one point or another."

He said there were several reports of water flooding into people's basements.

In Findlay, where flooding is a regular concern near the Blanchard River during heavy rainfalls, low level areas were flooded but there were no reports of homes with water in basements or disabled vehicles.

The river was expected to fall below the 11-foot flood stage Thursday morning, but some flooding was occurring Wednesday night in streets including Blanchard Avenue, East Sandusky Street, and Main Cross Street. Portions of more than 20 streets were closed as a result of flooding.

In Grand Rapids, Ohio, the Maumee River rose several feet over its 15-foot flood stage, affecting downtown businesses, the National Weather Service said. Chad Hoffman, village administrator, said on Wednesday morning that the town had so far been spared.

"The river is over its banks but there is no flooding," Mr. Hoffman said.

The National Weather Service recorded the river at 17.64 feet Wednesday afternoon.

The Maumee River in Waterville was nearly four feet above its 9-foot flood stage.

The storm dumped 3.02 inches of rain at Toledo Express Airport Tuesday through Wednesday morning. And 1.2 inches of snow fell at the airport near end of the storm, said Paul Walker, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc., the private weather forecasting service based in State College, Pa.

"The storm developed across the Midwest and moved up across the Great Lakes; it drew up some moisture from the south and high pressure to the northwest and was able to deliver cold air at the end of the storm to change it over to snow," Mr. Walker said.

Elsewhere in the region, Lima had 1.5 inches of snow, Columbus Grove had 0.8 inches, and Van Wert had 2.3 inches.

In the accident that killed Mr. Spire, he was southbound on I-75 near State Rt. 81, spun out of control on an ice-covered bridge, struck a compact car driven by Lisa Meulman, 53, of Columbus Grove, Ohio, and then hit a guardrail and flipped over. The compact car stopped in the right lane of the highway. A commercial vehicle swerved to avoid hitting it, and another compact car, driven by Christy Pursell, 46, of Bluffton, Ohio, spun out of control and into a concrete barrier. A car driven by Jeffery Stahl, 51, of Toledo, then crashed into the second compact car. The crash closed the highway for about two hours.

Theresa Pollick, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said several roads in Lucas, Wood, Fulton, Ottawa, and Sandusky counties were impassable Wednesday morning.

"We have had so much water there is essentially nowhere for it to go and it ends up on the roadways," she said. "In order to keep the traveling public safe, we have no choice to close those roads. Flooding is the number one weather related killer in America. That is why we take this seriously, but unfortunately people still try to drive through them and we remind them not to because you don't know how deep that water is."

In Lucas County, closures were posted at Central Avenue between State Rt. 295 and Centennial Road, State Rt. 295 between State Rt. 64 and U.S. 20A, and U.S. 24 between Jeffers Road and Ludwig Road.

In Fulton County, U.S. 20A between County Road 25-2 and State Rt. 66 was closed, while State Rt. 19 between State Rt. 523 and the Sandusky/Ottawa County border and State Rt. 105 between State Rt. 582 and U.S. 23 also were closed, both in Sandusky County.

In Wood County, State Rt. 281 between State Rt. 25 and Solether Road was closed, while State Rt. 105 between State Rt. 590 and State Rt. 51 in Ottawa County remained closed Wednesday night.

Staff writer Julie McKinnon contributed to this report.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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