Thursday, January 8, 2004

Water recedes, cleanup begins

Next crest will be on the Ohio River

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Dorothy Combs piles items from her basement onto the porch of her home in South Lebanon. Next stop: the trash pile in the front yard.
(Michael Snyder photo)
Some eastern Cincinnati areas began feeling the effects of a still-rising Ohio River on Wednesday. Meanwhile, local emergency officials in outlying counties hit earlier by flooding said overall damage appears to be minor.

All but a few homes affected by weekend flooding had water in the basement, but not in the living quarters. And most of the dozens of roads that were temporarily closed had only minimal damage.

"I think we've fared well," said Frank Young, director of the Warren County Emergency Management Agency. "If the Little Miami River came up another several feet, we would have had a lot of homes compromised in South Lebanon, Oregonia and Waynesville."

William Turner, director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency, said no communities in Butler had filed damage reports so far.

"I'm assuming they do not see the damages as a big issue," he said. "Very few homes had significant damage."

Meanwhile, the Ohio River rose just above the 52-foot flood level Wednesday, causing Hamilton County to close Eight Mile Road between Hopper Road and U.S. 52 in Anderson Township. On Tuesday, high water forced the closing of Kellogg Avenue between Sutton Road and Four Mile Road. That was still closed Wednesday.

In Cincinnati's East End neighborhood, the Ohio River flooded Schmidt Field as well as some back yards on streets south of Eastern Avenue.

The river will crest at 54 feet Friday, said Steve Hrebenach, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Residents whose homes were flooded this week continue their cleanup effort.

Ruined shelves, pieces of drywall, doors, two chairs, a table, a baby stroller and other debris sat in a pile in the front yard of Robert and Dorothy Combs of South Lebanon.

The weekend flooding nearly filled their basement from floor to ceiling. On Wednesday morning, the Combses rented a pressure washer and a pump to clean out their basement.

"We've lost everything in the basement," Dorothy Combs said.

Their furnace, water heater, sump pump and central air-conditioning unit will have to be replaced.

Water restoration businesses have been inundated with calls this week. CR&R Inc., a disaster restoration business in Winton Place, has received 75 calls, said Michael Fannon, director of operations.


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