Monday, Jul 25, 2016
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Winds cause utility problems; high water shuts some area roads

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    A utility pole likely pulled from the ground by high winds caused the closure of Detroit Avenue between Arlington and Glendale avenues in South Toledo on Thursday morning.

    <The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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    A white-tail deer struggles to escape the ice in the fast-flowing Maumee River at Grand Rapids, Ohio. The rising river there, as in other places in the region, has residents on flood watch.

    <The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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    Water and ice from the River Raisin cover Winchester Street in Monroe. The river spilled its banks at Veterans Park as well.

    <The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Wind gusts of up to 55 mph in northwest Ohio overnight downed several trees and power lines, causing utility problems in the area.

Several roads also remained closed Thursday morning due to high water.

U.S. 23 has been reopened after being down to one lane in each direction between Dundee and Milan because a railroad underpass pump failed.

In Toledo, a utility pole is bent at the intersection of Glendale and Detroit avenues. Another one is reportedly sparking near the intersection of West Alexis and Van Wormer Drive in West Toledo. Toledo Edison crews are on the scene.

A stop sign has reportedly blown down at the intersection of Mason and Joppa roads in Erie County, north of Florence, Ohio.

AEP Ohio is working to restore power to the more than 6,000 customers in northwest Ohio in the dark.

As of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, progress had been made in the two areas with the most outages - Tiffin customers without power was reduced from nearly 4,800 to 380 and about 1,500 in Lima remained without power, compared to about 2,000 a few hours earlier.

There remained about 623 in Findlay without power, 530 people in Fremont, 334 in Van Wert, 186 in Paulding, and 167 in Ottawa.

Power was expected to be restored to all customers by midnight on Friday.

Beverly Elementary School in South Toledo is closed Thursday because of flooding.

The school at 4022 Rugby Dr. had water in the building, Toledo Public Schools Spokesman Patty Mazur said.

Several counties including, Allen, Putnam, Seneca, Fulton, and Lucas have reported downed trees and power lines caused by high winds.

A wind advisory will remain in effect until 4 p.m. today for Toledo, Bowling Green, Port Clinton, Fremont, Findlay, and Tiffin, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland.

A deep low pressure system moving through the lower great lakes is expected to cause gusty winds up to 50 mph at times, the NWS reports.

Roads that are closed Thursday morning include: U.S. 224 in Seneca County between State Route 67 and State Route 100; State Route 19 between Fremont and Oak Harbor in Sandusky County; State Route 105 in Sandusky County between U.S. 23 and Woodville;State Route 590 in Sandusky County between U.S. 6 and U.S. 20, and State Route 424 in Henry County from the Village of Florida to the Defiance/Henry County Line.

Several roads that are closed in Findlay include: South River Road between Broad and County Road 140; Howard from Broad to the Walmart entrance; Westfield; East Main Cross from Blanchard to McManness/Osborn; Findlay Street at Liberty; High Street from Blanchard to Wilson, and Wilson Street from Lawn to High.


A white-tail deer struggles to escape the ice in the fast-flowing Maumee River at Grand Rapids, Ohio. The rising river there, as in other places in the region, has residents on flood watch.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio - Dinner last night was just as pleasant as it normally is when the Kiefer family gets together, thank you, except for one minor issue the mother, Judy, had with her son Richie's new house.

He suddenly appeared to be "living on an island," she said.

Not good. You see, Richie Kiefer lives out in the country on Armbruster Road in Grand Rapids Township. His mother, who is the Grand Rapids village mayor, said area fields around his house were holding so much water that his driveway had become partially submerged - enough for him to jokingly ask his parents if they wanted him to get a johnboat to shuttle them out to their GMC Suburban.

Er, nothing personal, son. But we gotta go before this gets any worse, she replied.

Richie's house, which sits higher than the driveway, wasn't in imminent danger of flooding. But as he waved goodbye, he started digging a trench in the dark to divert water off his property, his mother said.


Water and ice from the River Raisin cover Winchester Street in Monroe. The river spilled its banks at Veterans Park as well.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Such is life in places such as Grand Rapids, Waterville, Findlay, and Monroe, where rivers are rising, sending water into streets, yards, and basements.

While fast-paced television images might give viewers the impression that residents of flood-prone areas are running on adrenaline now, that's not necessarily the case - though, by this time tomorrow, that could be another story.

People who live in those areas say they've been around high water long enough to take it in stride.

That's not to say they take the risk of flooding lightly. But they try not to go straight for the panic button.

"I think we just kind of get laid-back about the whole thing," Mrs. Kiefer said. "I think everybody watches it. I guess they're always thinking about it. It's something that happens. You just kind of wait."

Lon Tonjes, Grand Rapids' fire chief, spent yesterday surveying the Maumee River, checking on low-lying areas, and waiting for the latest National Weather Service updates to be posted online.

"Not to be complacent about it, but you kind of get used to it," he said.

He said he had no clear answer for people who wondered if they should be moving their belongings to higher ground.

"Would I?" he asked rhetorically, though his house sits high enough away from the Maumee to avoid being flooded unless the entire village was devastated. "Yeah, probably."

He said he expects to know more about 1 p.m. today.

"It's just a matter of how fast this stuff comes out of the fields and how much is in there," Mr. Tonjes said. "It's basically sit and watch. And see what the forecast is."

The good news: The Maumee's ice jam freed itself yesterday.

That's one down in terms of risk factors.

But depending on the amount of rainfall, the strength of winds, and the pace in which standing water drains off fields, there could be a number of area homes and businesses flooded by tonight or early tomorrow.

Everyone's crossing their fingers, hoping that ditches become unclogged - but not all at once.

There was plenty of standing water in rural Monroe County, too.

"My guess is there's probably still frost in the ground there," LaSalle Township Supervisor Larry Rutledge said.

He took a drive last night out by property he and his wife own in the North Shores subdivision north of Toledo Beach Marina, an area that is like "a fishbowl." He saw no flooding.

Many northwest Ohio roads remain closed because of flooding.

A parking lot adjacent to the University of Toledo's Glass Bowl was taking on high water, Jon Strunk, UT spokesman, said.

Some underpasses in Toledo also were filled with water, making such areas impassable for motorists.

In those cases, authorities urged motorists to turn around and take alternative routes.

According to the National Weather Service, most flood deaths occur in automobiles. Water depth is often deceptive. A foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep a vehicle off a road, the agency said.

The Coast Guard also reminded people yesterday that Lake Erie's ice is now far too unstable and hazardous for people to venture on - just in case there was any lingering doubt after Saturday's rescue of 134 ice fishermen near Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Monroe Police Lt. Clyde Breeding said ice jams caused portions of the River Raisin to overflow, flooding Veterans Park on North Custer Road west of Telegraph Road. An area off East Front Street near Hellenberg Park was submerged in water. The river receded as the ice loosened.

Findlay officials last night reported the Blanchard River rose six inches between 6 and 7 p.m.

"We're right at flood stage," city employee Joshua Gearing said. "This is where it starts spilling over everywhere."

The weather service had issued flood advisories and warnings for several areas last night, including Waterville and Bowling Green.

It said the Maumee is expected to crest at 12.6 feet in the Waterville area tonight. The flood stage is 9 feet. Basements there often take on water when the river gets above 12 feet, the agency said.

Fingers were being crossed in hopes that sump pumps would kick on.

Mrs. Kiefer said she knows of one house between Grand Rapids and Bowling Green that had a pump failure, allowing two feet of water in its basement.

Staff writer Mark Reiter contributed to this report.

Contact Tom Henry at:

or 419-724-6079.

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