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Published: Tuesday, 6/27/2006

Flood recovery slow, painful for Norwalk

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jerrod Garrett, left, and Dianna Ganzhorn squeegee water from a flooded basement in Collins, Ohio, just east of Norwalk. The teenagers are members of the Young Marines. Jerrod Garrett, left, and Dianna Ganzhorn squeegee water from a flooded basement in Collins, Ohio, just east of Norwalk. The teenagers are members of the Young Marines.
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NORWALK, Ohio - Marilyn Seiler said she doesn't know when she'll again be able to live in the house she bought just more than a year ago in this northern Ohio city.

After she was evacuated from her home Thursday because of the floodwater accompanying the storms that swept through the state, she's only returned to clean up the damage caused by 9 feet of water that climbed up to the floor joists in her basement at 51 East Elm St.

"It can't get no worse," she said, surveying her street littered with blankets, clothes, carpets, furniture, and other ruined possessions piled high at the curbs to be carted away.

Tim Krop helps clean up debris at a business in Norwalk. Last week's storms flooded about 800 homes in Huron County. More rain is in the forecast for Norwalk today and tomorrow. Tim Krop helps clean up debris at a business in Norwalk. Last week's storms flooded about 800 homes in Huron County. More rain is in the forecast for Norwalk today and tomorrow.
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Throughout the area, the storms that began Wednesday night and continued into Friday morning killed two people, produced several tornadoes, and knocked out power to thousands.

Norwalk, about halfway between Toledo and Cleveland in Huron County, was one of the areas hit the hardest. The city's reservoir overflowed the spillway into Norwalk Creek, causing flooding of up to 12 feet in low-lying areas.

"It was just way too much rain for all the streams to handle it," said Bill Ommert, director of the county's emergency management agency. "We got 6 inches in a three-hour period, and it just plain backed everything up."

He said the storms affected about 800 houses in the county, ranging from a few inches of wa-ter in basements to seven or eight homes that were destroyed.

South of Elm Street, Betty Rhode, 71, drifted between her garage and her backyard at 6 Breezewood Dr., where she was carefully placing possessions from her basement outside to dry.

Betty Rhode of Norwalk gives directions to her granddaughter, Sarah Rhode, in sorting through her flood-damaged possessions as she decides what can be salvaged and what can be thrown out. Last week's rains caused Norwalk's reservoir to overflow, resulting in flooding of up to 12 feet in low-lying areas. Betty Rhode of Norwalk gives directions to her granddaughter, Sarah Rhode, in sorting through her flood-damaged possessions as she decides what can be salvaged and what can be thrown out. Last week's rains caused Norwalk's reservoir to overflow, resulting in flooding of up to 12 feet in low-lying areas.
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Though she appreciated that the North County Young Marines stopped by to ask if she needed help cleaning, she said she was more concerned with organizing her possessions into what could be salvaged and what needed to be tossed out.

"You are just so overwhelmed," she said of the mess created when more than a foot of water seeped into her home while she was on vacation in Indiana. "I just don't know where to turn right now. I just hate to throw stuff out."

Along with the young marines, Mr. Ommert said other volunteer groups have been wandering throughout the area focusing mainly on helping senior citizens clean up their homes.

"We're trying to get into the recovery stage at this point," he said. "But we're in trouble if it rains because it might get us back where we were Thursday."

And rain is exactly what is predicted for Huron County throughout the next five days, according to officials at Accuweather in State College, Pa., and the Cleveland office of the National Weather Service.

Accuweather Meteorologist Megan Woodhead said there is a strong possibility that scattered showers and thunderstorms will hit Huron County and other local areas every day until Sunday.

It's expected to rain the most later today and during the day tomorrow, though some areas may see only a quarter of an inch.

But just in case, Mr. Ommert said residents should monitor what is happening outside in case of heavy rains. "We certainly hope that doesn't happen, but if it does, just be prepared," he said. "Be alert so you don't get caught off-guard."

Contact Erika Ray at:

eray@theblade.com

or 419-724-6088.



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