Residents spring into action in OH flooding

BY KAY PANOVEC | OHIO | July 16, 1998


OHIO (July 16, 1998) -- For Kathy Crock, the most frightening aspect of the flooding that struck

the small town of Caldwell, Ohio, was how fast the water rose.

"The flood came so fast and so hard we didn't have time to prepare,"

explained Crock, of Caldwell, OH. "We had 8 feet of water in 15 minutes.

The Interstate was closed, the roads in town were impassable. We couldn't

get out, and people couldn't get in to help."

The Crock family was one of thousands affected by recent flooding in

southeastern Ohio. Although their home were spared, the family's lumber

business suffered extensive damage.

Ed Crock was at the lumber company when he noticed Duck Creek overflowing.

As the business quickly become submerged in muddy waters, he moved across

the street. Within minutes, cars that had been slowly heading down the road

were swirling out of control, slamming into trees.

"People were screaming, trying to climb out of their cars and trucks and

heading for the trees," Crock recalled.

Some folks were rescued, but others were not as lucky. In the creek that

usually trickles along the back of Caldwell Lumber, three bodies were

found. The fatalities included an older couple, whose mobile home was found

in pieces several yards away from its foundation.

"People ask how we will recover from the loss of our company," Crock said.

"That's just money. What I will never forget is the screaming."

In Belle Valley, Travis Christman and his wife, Angie, decided to move to

higher ground as the water rose. They gently carried their two sleeping

daughters, ages 2 and 4, to the back of their Jeep. When they reached the

top of the nearby campground, Christman, a student pastor for the Belle

Valley United Methodist Charge, returned to the small community to assist

rescue crews.

"It was just the right thing to do," he said. "I know just about everybody

in this town, so I made a list of the folks who live around here. The crews

would go in, and when they were loaded in the boats, we'd mark their names

off the list."

Just one person died in Belle Valley.

Many people were evacuated from the second story of their homes. Priority

was given to the elderly and those living in one-story homes.

One of Christman's elderly parishioners, Toppy Buckie, was asleep when the

floods came. He was awakened by the sound of his dog barking. When he left

the bedroom, Buckie was in knee-deep water. By the time he reached the

front door, he was wading through water at chest level. Both Buckie and his

dog were rescued.

Some residents managed to retain a sense of humor. Mildred Yonker, 72, and

her two sons, Paul Joe and Bobby, both of whom have muscular dystrophy,

were in their mobile home when the storms came.

As the waters seeped in, they moved to the highest location in the home,

the kitchen. When the rescue crews arrived by boat, Mildred and her sons

were at the kitchen table, playing Yahtzee. The home was a total loss, but

the game was reportedly saved along with the Yonker family.

Posted July 16, 1998


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