Thursday, May 20, 2004

Ohioans forced from homes by floodwater

The Associated Press

Storms in southeast Ohio caused a creek to overflow and forced hundreds of people to leave their homes, including some who had to be evacuated by boats and firetruck, officials said. There were no injuries.

The National Weather Service reported 1 inch to 2.4 inches fell over 24 hours, enough to cause Sunday Creek to flood.

Many streets in Corning, in Perry County, had about 3 feet of water Tuesday night, Chief Douglas Gill said.

As about 700 evacuated residents began returning home Wednesday, people had to leave their homes downstream in the Athens County towns of Glouster and Trimble.

About 50 homes in the Glouster area and 25 in the Trimble area were evacuated, said Jill Harris, director of the Athens County Emergency Management Agency. Other towns also were threatened and many roads were impassable, said Sandra Shirey, executive director for the Athens County Red Cross.

Gov. Bob Taft on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for Perry and Athens counties, clearing the way for the state to help. It also is a necessary step to seek federal disaster assistance.

State crews were sent to help repair roads, place sandbags and clean up, said Rob Glenn, spokesman for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. He said more counties could be added to the disaster declaration.

"We expect this weather pattern to park right over us for the next five to seven days," Glenn said. "The problem is, the water doesn't have anywhere to go."

Red Cross centers set up in Glouster and Trimble had about 50 people Wednesday afternoon, Shirey said.

In Corning Tuesday night, about 30 people came to a shelter set up by the Muskingum Valley Red Cross at an old school, said Dan Hartman, the agency's executive director. Most left as the water receded, he said.

Earlier radar estimates of up to 10 inches of rain were contaminated by hail, the National Weather Service said.

A few showers fell in Ohio on Wednesday morning, but most of the area was dry as the storm front cycled, the Weather Service said. More rain was possible today.

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