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Published: Wednesday, 7/12/2006

Residents air gripes over flood situation

BY LAREN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Maria Arreguin was one of many city residents seeking answers about last month's flooding. Maria Arreguin was one of many city residents seeking answers about last month's flooding.
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Upset Toledo residents demanded answers yesterday from City Council and state Sen. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) about why their homes flooded during last month's severe storms.

"I have nothing right now and I want my home back," said Maria Arreguin, who lives on Florita Drive near Reynolds Road.

Wiping away tears, Ms. Arreguin said water and sewage flooded the entire first floor of her home, rendering it unlivable. "I want somebody to listen, to not forget us," she said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, who did not attend the meeting, sent a letter yesterday to Senator Fedor criticizing her and asking for state help to solve the flooding problems.

The mayor said he had gone out to neighborhoods several times and was among a group of more than 100 city employees who "volunteered" their time June 24 to help city residents affected by the June 21 flooding.

"This would have been a great time for you and your staff to have been out there helping," the mayor said, the sentence underlined for emphasis. "I appreciate your desire to become involved now," he added, the word "now" likewise underlined. He suggested state help could enable the city to resolve the storm-water control problem.

Ms. Fedor could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Fedor, Mr. Finkbeiner, and Councilman Edna Brown co-chair the local campaign committee for Democrat Ted Strickland's bid for Ohio governor. Ms. Fedor was also a member of the so-called "A-team" Democratic faction that supported former Mayor Jack Ford's unsuccessful re-election bid against Mr. Finkbeiner in November.

The two factions have agreed to bury their disagreements to get Mr. Strickland elected in November.

However, Mr. Finkbeiner's plans to hold a campaign committee meeting at his office yesterday reportedly met with Ms. Fedor's objection. Later, after the council committee meeting, Ms. Fedor took Mr. Strickland's wife, Frances, on a tour of some of the areas of the city where flooding occurred - without Mr. Finkbeiner.

Though the reason for Mr. Finkbeiner's irritation with Senator Fedor was not stated in his letter, it may have been implied in the opening.

"I would have hoped and did expect that out of courtesy you would have notified my office of your interest in going door-to-door in the Laskey/Bennett [flooding] area," the mayor wrote. "We could have provided you the appropriate background information to be able to respond to citizens' concerns."

About 40 residents attended yesterday's council committee meeting on the flooding.

Ms. Arreguin was among nearly two dozen who spoke, asking why their houses flooded and how they can get help. She said she has been living with friends for close to three weeks while trying to clean her house so she can move back in.

Laura Scott of Delmonte Street also has been without a home for three weeks. Her 4-year-old daughter is living in Virginia with her grandmother while Ms. Scott tries to repair flood damage to her home.

"It is like starting over," she said. "We've lost so much. I want her back and my life back."

President Bush declared a federal disaster in Lucas, Huron, Erie, Sandusky, Cuyahoga, and Stark counties July 2, making grants and loans available to flood victims.



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