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Published: 7/5/2006

City seeks flood clues after latest storm

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, left, visits with West Toledoans, from left, Kelly Wright, Deanna Penske, Brian Hairabedian, and Sandy Snyder after overnight storms caused more damage. Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, left, visits with West Toledoans, from left, Kelly Wright, Deanna Penske, Brian Hairabedian, and Sandy Snyder after overnight storms caused more damage.
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A few hours after an early morning thunderstorm stopped pounding Toledo yesterday, city officials drove the length of Shantee Creek to find out why water, once again, did not drain and instead poured into people's homes.

For the second time in two weeks, homes along Crawford Avenue in West Toledo were soaked by the rain as water flooded the streets and seeped into basements.

Yesterday, frustrated residents questioned why the creek continues to flood.

Baffled city officials had few answers.

"There was only two inches of rain. We shouldn't have had this much flooding," said Brian Hairabedian, whose basement was destroyed by a storm June 21 but avoided more water yesterday. "We need an answer."

The National Weather Service reported that the thunderstorms that pummeled northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan late Monday night and early yesterday dropped between 1/2 inch and 2 inches of rain throughout the region.

The most significant amounts fell between 12:30 a.m. and 3 a.m., said Frank Kieltyka, a weather service meteorologist in Cleveland.

Areas near Riga, Mich., got a little over 2 inches of rain. At Toledo Express Airport, it was 1.68 inches.

The storm left many areas in Toledo flooded, including viaducts such as the one on Reynolds Road near Angola Road and low-lying areas such as Central Avenue and Sherbrooke Road.

In West Toledo, a basement fire about 1:30 a.m. may have been started by an electrical short caused by lightning, Battalion Fire Chief Dennis Facer said. Damage was estimated at about $60,000 at the home at 4312 Birchall Rd., he said.

In South Toledo, a caller reported a fire on the roof of the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd., after an apparent lightning strike about12:40 a.m. yesterday. Firefighters responded but found nothing, authorities said.

Dave Moebius, the city's assistant chief operating officer, was among several officials who drove the length of Shantee Creek looking for obstructions. The ditch runs west to east near Laskey Road and adjacent to the homeowners along Crawford.

"Our quest is to get an answer," Mr. Moebius said. The city hopes to know by the end of the week what went wrong, he said.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner echoed that sentiment to residents who gathered around him in the 300 block of Crawford during the afternoon.

Many of them still haven't been able to move back into their homes, which were filled with mud and water two weeks ago. Yesterday's storm compounded their problems.

Kelly Wright said she still hasn't received money from her insurance company to help clean out the thick mud that settled in her basement June 21 after her back wall caved in.

Even a sprinkle sends the 22-year-old into a panic that her home will suffer more damage.

"I want my house clean and on stilts," she said of her home, which has been uninhabitable since the last bout of storms.

President Bush declared Lucas, Erie, Huron, Sandusky, Cuyahoga, and Stark counties in northern Ohio eligible for federal disaster assistance as a result of the June storms.

Norwalk, the Huron County seat, was particularly hard hit by flooding caused by heavy rains overflowing a spillway at a levee there.

Throughout the region yesterday, Toledo Edison crews were working to restore power to the 7,000 customers affected by the early-morning storms. Crews were expected to have all power restored by the end of yesterday, said Meg Adams, a spokesman for the utility.

One of those outages affected the water treatment plant in Fayette, Ohio, causing officials to issue a boil-water alert for the Fulton County village. The alert, issued about 1 p.m. yesterday, was to be in effect for 24 hours.

The storm also downed numerous trees and limbs in Huron and Erie counties, causing scattered power outages.

Staff writer Mike Sigov contributed to this report.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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