Toledo flood damage surprises officials

BY HEATHER MOYER | Toledo, OH | August 26, 2000


Before the Lucas County Division of Emergency Services officials opened a toll-free

phone line for disaster assistance, they thought they had around 600 homes and businesses with damage.

After they opened the line, that number skyrocketed to more than 1,100 buildings.

President Clinton just declared Lucas County a Disaster Area last Monday as damages are estimated at

close to $8 million. Some 12,000 properties were affected in one way or another, said Tom Barnhizer,

director of the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). Barnhizer said the area received

two days of hard rain. "The first rainstorm was the worst, we received six to seven inches of rain in a little

over two hours. Streets became rivers and parking lots became lakes," said Barnhizer.

"The second (storm) came two days later, and that brought four to five inches of rain. Because the system

was still flooded, that rain rose quickly and may have caused more damage."

Of the 1,100 people affected by the flood, Barnhizer said at least 600 homes had major damage from the

floods.

A Church World Service disaster resource consultant traveled to the flood site to help plan a long-term

community response.

While the area had major damage, they've also had major help from at least 21 separate agencies.

Everyone from AmeriCorps volunteers to Jewish Family Services has been lending their help to the city.

The AmeriCorps volunteers helped many senior citizens with the cleanup and sanitation of their houses.

Jewish Family Services has been handling any calls for counseling or other mental health needs.

Numerous other agencies have been in town assisting survivors. The Salvation Army helped many people

restore utilities and is now helping more people get furniture to replace what was lost. The Church of

Christ in Lima, Ohio, donated money and comfort kits to survivors. Ohio Governor Bob Taft was in town

Friday also to survey damages.

Today the first seven aid applicants received their aid checks in a ceremony at the Government Center in

Toledo. Barnhizer said the Lucas County EMA will be opening up a Disaster Recovery Center this week to

help the application process move more quickly for the rest of the aid applicants. "We're going into the

long-term planning stage now," he said. Barnhizer added that the cleanup in many of the affected

neighborhoods has moved along very quickly.

"In many neighborhoods you can't even tell there were floods," he said. But Barnhizer said much of the

cleanup had moved inside too, as many basements and first floors of homes were damaged.

Posted Aug. 28, 2000


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