Will Ivan flood mid-Atlantic?

Mary Woodward of Lutheran Disaster Response in Ohio summed up the state's flooding situation in one sentence.

BY HEATHER MOYER | CAMBRIDGE, Ohio | September 15, 2004

Camp Noah kids play a game.
Credit: Disaster News Network

Mary Woodward of Lutheran Disaster Response in Ohio summed up the state's flooding situation in one sentence.

"We're expecting more rain from Ivan - and if that hits us, we're in big trouble."

Ohio has been pummeled in floods caused by several drenching rainstorms. Major floods hit in the spring, summer, and then again last week when the remnants of Hurricane Frances spun slowly through the region.

"We've been nine feet above flood stage since last Thursday," said Woodward. Over 15 counties have been declared states of emergency so far, and the water still hasn't receded in some areas. Woodward said they're still waiting on damage assessments, but what has been seen so far is staggering. "We were expecting rain - but not this much."

In eastern Ohio's Guernsey County, flooding from Frances destroyed over 100 homes. Just south in Noble County, another 58 homes were destroyed. Hundreds of other homes were affected, from Athens to Cambridge. Many of the flooded areas are the same ones hit by high water earlier this year. Interstates 70 and 77 were even closed for some time as water covered the roads.

Woodward said her home is on a hill, but the major flooding this time around even flooded the highway near her. "That is very unusual. I just keep wondering - is this ever going to stop? But the ground is so saturated right now, the water has nowhere to go."

Meanwhile, she and her fellow disaster responders from Adventist Community Services, United Methodist Committee on Relief, United Church of Christ, and the state chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster are all busy helping residents clean out. Several mudout teams are already shoveling out homes. All the disaster relief groups are also part of the Southeast Ohio Disaster Relief Network, which is helping distribute furniture, clothing, and other household items.

Yet right now, it's just a waiting period before another major storm hits. "Folks here are nervous about Ivan. If it hits, all these minor and major damages will get worse," Woodward said.

Hurricane Ivan is expected to follow an almost similar path to Frances' through the U.S., and Frances caused damage in every state it touched through the south and mid-Atlantic.

During Frances, western North Carolina experienced flooding on a scale not seen in years. Cities like Canton, Asheville, and Old Fort all saw significant flooding. Mudslides ripped houses from their foundations and closed roads across the region. Many residents had to be rescued from their homes as waters rose more quickly than expected. Overall, 15 counties became federally declared disaster areas after Frances moved through.

The storm also spawned numerous tornadoes throughout its path, with one destroying five homes and damaging another 27 in Virginia's Caroline County.

Hurricane Ivan's projected path also takes it through Kentucky and West Virginia, both states with a history of serious flooding. Eastern Kentucky and southwest West Virginia suffered major flooding several times this spring, and both are very prone to flooding. Frances also damaged the Wheeling area last week, and emergency officials said they've hardly had any time to clean up the mess from last week in order to prepare for what could happen next week.

Just across the border in Pennsylvania's Darlington Township, residents near the Little Beaver Creek saw flood damage to their homes as well. Many had just finished repairing their homes after major flooding back in May, only to have Frances drench everything again. Officials from the state emergency management agency are requesting federal aid for those residents affected again this time around.

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