Ohio sees repeat flood

At least 4,000 homes in Ohio are flooded for the second time in six months.


"The depression is getting very serious among the families."

—Mary Woodward

Preliminary estimates in southeast Ohio show that of the more than 9,000 homes with flood damage last September, about one-half of them were damaged again in this most recent round of flooding.

According to Mary Woodward, disaster response coordinator for Lutheran Social Services in Ohio, while that kind of data is still preliminary, the number of destroyed and damaged homes across the state will be significant. "We've got ice storm damage in the northern part of the state, and then flooding in the south," noted Woodward, who is also head of the Southeast Ohio Disaster Relief Network (SEODRN).

Heavy rains over the past two weeks forced many rivers out of their banks across the state. Ohio Governor Bob Taft declared a state of emergency in 59 of Ohio's 88 counties and is requesting a federal declaration.

In eastern Ohio's Tuscarawas County, the town of Bolivar saw more than 3,300 people voluntarily evacuated due to high water. Other hard hit areas include Cambridge and Marietta.

Woodward said the Ohio chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (OHVOAD) is holding daily conference calls to assess and respond to needs. "We are working with The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross to meet any emergency needs we can right now." OHVOAD and Adventist Community Services are also running a supply warehouse in Byesville where residents can receive cleanup supplies and other needed materials.

For the long-term, Woodward said OHVOAD is working closely with Church World Service on plans to form several long-term recovery committees (LTRCs) in certain parts of the state. SEODRN already handles southeast Ohio, but new LTRCs will form in southwest and northwest Ohio.

Woodward also warned about the emotional state of many of the repeat flood survivors in Ohio. "The depression is getting very serious among the families," Woodward said, noting that floods have hit some parts of Ohio frequently in the past few years.

Many families are very discouraged and want to relocate, yet many government buy-out programs move very slowly. "They also oftentimes cannot afford to move on their own," she added.

In the meantime, she said Lutheran Disaster Response is helping with spiritual needs of the residents and the Seventh Day Adventist Church helps with spiritual care for pastors.

Winter flooding is usually more difficult than spring and summer flooding, added Woodward. "Because many houses lose power during flooding, in the winter all the water in the basement will freeze. That leads to burst pipes and water freezing within the home's foundation. And most times with that, you can't even begin to address those serious foundation issues until it warms up in the spring.

"That complication really compounds the cost of repairs."

SEODRN is seeking out donations of money and building supplies. Woodward said many of her volunteers are currently working on hurricane relief in Florida, so anyone who would like to help with debris cleanup in Ohio now is more than welcome. "We're literally at a standstill this time."

The 59 affected counties are Allen, Ashland, Athens, Auglaize, Belmont, Brown, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clermont, Clinton, Columbiana, Coshocton, Crawford, Darke, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Guernsey, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Huron, Jefferson, Knox, Licking, Logan, Madison, Marion, Meigs, Mercer, Miami, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Preble, Richland, Ross, Seneca, Shelby, Stark, Tuscarawas, Union, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Wyandot.

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