Sunday, September 19, 2004

Weary, flood-soaked Ohioans wring hands and belongings

By Anita Chang
The Associated Press

AMESVILLE - Residents in flood-prone portions of eastern and southern Ohio know heavy rain usually means they have to clean, repair and rebuild their homes - again.

"You know it's gonna happen. You hate it, but you know it's gonna happen," Gary Stocker, 60, said as he sat in his truck waiting for 4 feet of water on state Route 550 to recede so he could get to his home a mile away in this town about 70 miles southeast of Columbus.

Remnants of Hurricane Ivan swamped parts of 16 counties Friday in eastern and southern Ohio.

About 115 students spent Friday night at Amesville Elementary in southeast Ohio after floodwaters surrounded the school.

About 1,500 people in Belmont County, along the Ohio River in eastern Ohio, remained out of their homes on Saturday, said Julie Hinds, a spokeswoman with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. Shelters in the county were serving 50 to 100 residents, she said.

There were water-line breaks throughout the county, and an undetermined number of people were without water Saturday night, authorities said. The Ohio River was expected to crest about 9 or 10 feet above flood stage this afternoon.

Authorities were searching for a teenage girl from Barton who was last seen walking at 3 p.m. Saturday, when water was rising.

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