SALEM, Ohio – The waters have receded, but it will be a long time before the flood victims in north central Ohio will fully recover.
Hardest hit. Gov. Ted Strickland declared a state of emergency Aug. 22 for nine northern Ohio counties: Allen, Crawford, Hancock, Hardin, Putnam, Richland, Seneca, Van Wert and Wyandot. And, as of Aug. 27, six counties – Allen, Crawford, Hancock, Putnam, Richland and Wyandot – were declared federal disaster areas.
More counties may be designated after damage assessments are completed.
Since Aug. 20, the state’s Emergency Operations Center has been receiving reports from 27 counties affected by storms that have dumped as much as 15 inches of rain throughout central and northern Ohio. The rains started Sunday night, Aug. 19.
There has been one confirmed death in Richland County, caused by a gas can igniting after being overturned in the flood waters. There is an unconfirmed death of a man who drowned after his car became stuck in high waters.
Across the region, there have been more than 300 rescue missions performed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio’s Disaster Animal Rescue Team.
‘Incredible’ rainfall. The heaviest rains Sunday and Monday hit a swath from Wood County in northwest Ohio through Seneca and Huron counties to southern Medina and Summit counties. Roads were closed in Sandusky and Huron counties and hundreds of basements were flooded.
Then, Monday night, the rains shifted further south and stretched from near Findlay in Hancock County to Upper Sandusky and Bucyrus, to near Mansfield in Richland County.
“Rainfall amounts were incredible,” reports the National Weather Service office in Cleveland.
Bucyrus received 8.68 inches in less than 24 hours and large portions of the city were under water from runoff and from the rising Sandusky River.
Upper Sandusky in Wyandot County received 9.35 inches in a 24-hour period.
Findlay, located on the Blanchard River, had near-record flooding, with the river peaking at 18.45 feet, nearly a foot higher than the city’s 1981 flood and more than 7 feet above flood stage. Parts of Interstate 75 were closed in Hancock County.
Putnam County’s drinking water supplies were contaminated when water lines running under the Blanchard River leaked and subsequently drew in flood water. And in the city of Carey (Wyandot County), a nursing home was evacuated and residents sent to three other nursing homes. The facility needs to be cleaned up before residents can return, and it may not reopen.
Preliminary damage assessments show several thousand homes have been impacted, and more than 700 homes are categorized as having major damage or are destroyed.
As of Monday, Aug. 27, there were still flood warnings for parts of Defiance, Fulton, Putnam and Williams counties in the state’s far northwestern corner.
Crop damage. Many corn and soybean fields were submerged after the heavy rains. Farmers and agronomists are still evaluating the impact of potential flood damage.
“Late-season flooding is an uncommon event in Ohio, so little information is available on its effects on corn at this stage of development,” said Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension corn specialist.
Ohio was not the only state that experienced floods. A string of severe thunderstorms also dumped heavy rain on several Midwest states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
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