Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007


Flooding forces evacuations
By JOHN GRABER
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Arlington, Bluffton suffer extensive flooding damage
The floodwaters began to recede Tuesday evening in southern Hancock County, but many areas, including the villages of Bluffton and Arlington, remain waterlogged.
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Seen from the air, one wet county
Findlay from the ground might have looked wet Tuesday, but from the air it looked scary, like a memory of New Orleans in 2005. It looked like the levies had broken.
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Southern Hancock County: 'I've never seen it this bad'
So much for the drought.
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Red Cross establishes shelter in local church
The people at St. Andrew's United Methodist Church looked weary and bewildered Tuesday. Some of them were eating, and others were wringing out wet clothes.
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City, county road closings
Numerous streets and roads in Findlay and Hancock County remained closed late Tuesday night as the result of high water conditions.
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Flooding shuts down Carey
CAREY — Shawn Taylor's basement is flooded, his furnace is shot and he is without hot water or air conditioning at his East Findlay Street residence — but that's only the beginning of his troubles after flooding that caused a Level 3 emergency to be declared in the village on Tuesday.
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Flooding can bring contamination
The dangers associated with flooding don’t recede with the water.
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County jobless rate declines
Hancock County's jobless rate declined in July to 5 percent from 5.1 percent a month earlier.
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Developer pulls complex plans
The immediate possibility of a controversial apartment complex being built on Township Road 212, north of U.S. 224, seems to be off again.
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Tax breaks approved for new ethanol plant
FOSTORIA — The company which broke ground last week on a $130 million ethanol production plant on the city's eastern edge, received support from city council Tuesday when four ordinances — including several which will provide tax breaks for the company — were approved as emergency legislation Tuesday night.
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Fostoria man convicted of assault of 2-year-old
TIFFIN — A Fostoria man was found guilty of felonious assault and endangering children, in connection with the abuse of a 2-month-old infant at a Fostoria residence in September 2005, during a recent appearance in Seneca County Common Pleas.
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Public Record
Docket
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Local News

Flooding forces evacuations

By JOHN GRABER

and DENISE GRANT

STAFF WRITERS

Flooding troubles plagued Hancock and surrounding counties on Tuesday, and the situation worsened in Findlay on Tuesday evening as the rain-swollen Blanchard River poured into city streets, houses and businesses.

Mayor Tony Iriti declared a civil emergency effective as of 7 p.m.

"It means we're trying to get cars off the road because our emergency vehicles are having trouble getting around and the flooding still has a way to go tonight," Iriti said.

Numerous city streets were closed by floodwaters Tuesday night, and firemen were rescuing people from their homes and cars as the water rose.

(A list of closed city and Hancock County roads appears on page A3.)

By 10 p.m., both Main Street and Broad Avenue had been closed by high water, leaving Interstate 75 as the only major north-south route in town.

The interstate itself was closed by floodwaters during the day Tuesday, but reopened at 6 p.m.

Shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service was measuring the river's level at 15.58 feet and climbing. That's almost a foot higher than the weather service had predicted it would top out at. Flood stage is 11 feet.

The National Weather Service was predicting the river would crest sometime early this morning at 17.01 feet (or 775.11 feet above sea level).

If that was the case, this flood would be comparable to the 1981 flood, which was considered a 100-year flood. The river crested in 1981 at 17.43 feet.

Weather forecasters had said it would take a hurricane to bring an end to drought conditions in northwest Ohio, but Tuesday's deluge was overkill.

Remnants of Hurricane Erin, coupled with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, added up to one perfect mess Tuesday morning as area residents woke up and began trying to navigate their way to work.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm dumped between 5 and 9 inches of rain on the area Monday night and Tuesday.

Ray Burkholder, U.S. weather observer in Pandora, recorded 6.19 inches of rain from the storm, and the Findlay Water Pollution Control Center recorded 4.75 inches of rain.

Parts of southern Hancock County were hardest hit, with rain gauges there, calibrated to measure up to 6 inches of rain, overflowing.

Flash flooding closed down area roadways and forced evacuations throughout the day Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, the State Highway Patrol was reporting that every major route in Hancock County was closed at some point.

There was no loss of life, but there were some dramatic rescues.

Findlay Emergency Call Center (419-424-7000) began fielding a host of phone calls about flooding basements and roads in the city at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Residents of the Spring Lake Subdivision, in the southwest corner of town, were among the first in town to be evacuated from their homes.

Findlay fire crews were continuing to evacuate people from all around town Tuesday night, including residents on Brookside Drive, East-View Drive, West-View Drive, Sandusky Street, High Street and West Main Cross Street.

Earlier, residents were also evacuated from their flooded homes in Arlington, Bluffton and Forest.

The Hancock County chapter of the American Red Cross opened shelters at St. Andrew's United Methodist Church, 120 W. Sandusky St., and at Arlington High School, 336 S. Main St., Arlington.

Among the many rescued Tuesday were two men trapped in the water at a bridge on County Road 24, Mount Blanchard.

According to a Hancock County Sheriff's Office report, Andrew Leach, 20, and David Fredericks, 22, both of Carey, were found hanging onto trees near the bridge.

The men had to be rescued with the use of a ladder truck from the Findlay Fire Department.

Leach was taken to Blanchard Valley Hospital, where he was treated and released. Fredericks was treated at the scene.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman declared a Level 3 flood emergency for all roadways in the southern half of Hancock County, south of Ohio 15 and County Road 313. Only emergency vehicles were supposed to be on the roadway.

Heldman said fire departments in the southern half of the county were rescuing people from stranded cars and people were being evacuated from their homes in several villages.

In Wyandot County, the Village of Carey was shut down by extensive flooding which started Monday night and continued into Tuesday, causing a Level 3 emergency to be declared for the community.

"It's the worst I've seen in 20 years," Village Administrator Roy Johnson said Tuesday afternoon, between handling numerous calls from anxious residents. "There's four feet of water running down Brown Avenue." Heavy water was running east on Findlay Street to High Street, too.

Residents of the Carey Nursing & Rehabilitation Center were evacuated and transported to Blanchard Valley Hospital for temporary housing.



Interstate blocked

Interstate 75 near Bluffton was closed around 7 a.m. Tuesday and remained closed until about 6 p.m.

Riley Creek in the area of the Bluffton Quarry swelled to overflow as a result of heavy rains. Adjacent ditches along I-75 backed up as well, causing water to flood over all four lanes of I-75 between Bentley Road and Ohio 103.

Once water levels receded, engineers with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) were able to assess any damage to the pavement and to nearby bridges.

"We were concerned with a tunnel beneath Interstate 75 at the location of the quarry and two bridge structures over Riley Creek just north of the area," ODOT District 1 Deputy Director Tim Burkepile said.

"Once we determined the structures had not been damaged by the flooding, the roadway was reopened."

ODOT crews went out early Tuesday morning, monitoring flooding and high water-prone areas. Detours were posted as needed for affected state, U.S. and interstate routes.

Motorists were being advised to use caution when driving through areas with high water, not to drive through areas that are closed, and to slow down when driving on wet roads.

For a listing of all state road closures caused by weather, motorists are encouraged to go online to www.buckeyetraffic.org.



Volunteer Center

The Red Cross volunteer center is recruiting volunteers to assist with the current flood situation.

Trained Red Cross volunteers need a partner to ride along with them to assess flood damage.

Volunteers would need to be at the Red Cross office, 125 Fair St., by 8 a.m. today. Appropriate clothing would include jeans/work pants, long-sleeve shirts, work gloves and sensible shoes. Both men and women were being encouraged to volunteer.

People with knowledge of the Bluffton, Jenera and Arlington areas are especially needed. Anyone with access to a four-wheel-drive truck/vehicle is also needed. Mileage will be paid if the vehicle is used.

Contact staff writer John Graber at:

(419) 427-8417

johngraber@thecourier.com

Contact staff writer Denise Grant at:

(419) 427-8412

denisegrant@thecourier.com

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Arlington, Bluffton suffer extensive flooding damage

By J. STEVEN DILLON

STAFF WRITER

The floodwaters began to recede Tuesday evening in southern Hancock County, but many areas, including the villages of Bluffton and Arlington, remain waterlogged.

Damage in both places was significant, but no deaths or serious injuries were reported.

"We're cleaning up the best we can, but it's going to take a while," Bluffton Police Chief Rick Skilliter said Tuesday night. "There are a lot of places still pumping out."

Arlington was in a similar boat.

Residents there were able to get back to their homes by dinnertime, but many returned to find basements filled to the floor joists with water.

Ivan and Bobbie Shoemaker, who live on North Cumberland in Arlington, were awakened at 2 a.m. Tuesday by the sound of water rushing into their basement bedroom. When they looked out their front door their entire home was already surrounded by two feet of water.

"It just came rolling in," Ivan said of the flash flood. "It broke out a window, and just started filling the basement up."

The Shoemakers were forced to bail out of their home with their two children. When they got back in they found seven feet of water in their basement, two feet in their garage.

Among the losses: their entire bedroom furnishings, a washer and dryer, and a freezer. An antique velvet couch, which had belonged to Ivan's grandmother, was also damaged.

The Shoemakers were upbeat Tuesday evening despite their losses, as a generator and three-inch diameter hose emptied their basement.

"Oh, we're just going to clean up and move back in," Ivan said. "What else are you going to do?"

On the south side of Arlington, water was also streaming Tuesday night from the basement of the Best home at the corner of Wilch and U.S. 68, across from Arlington School.

Karl Best said he awoke at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday and the water started creeping into his basement by 6 a.m. In a short time, it was up to the windowsills — about 4-5 feet.

"We got it from both directions," Best said, pointing to the school parking lot to the west and to the Buck Run Creek on the east. "We weren't the only ones. It just didn't have any place to go."

The county eventually closed U.S. 68, but not before trucks compounded the problem by creating wake that sent more water into homes along the main street in Arlington.

Others living along Wilch also experienced flooded basements, and several vehicles parked along the road sustained heavy damage. On Railroad Street, a bridge leading to the park was buckled and appeared to be impassable.

In Bluffton, the village was literally cut in half by the flooding.

Riley Creek, Little Riley Creek and Marsh Run Ditch all flooded by 6 a.m. Tuesday, forcing evacuations around town and trapping others.

Bluffton police and firemen were involved in multiple rescues throughout the day, primarily along Cherry and Vance streets.

About 14 to 16 people were evacuated from their homes, and were taken to Marbeck Center at Bluffton University, according to Bluffton Fire Chief Dan Bowden.

And about 50 travelers trapped on Interstate 75 — which was blocked by floodwaters — were also transported to Bluffton University, according to Police Chief Skilliter.

No injuries were reported, but about six persons, mostly elderly, were transported to Bluffton Hospital as a precautionary measure.

The flood rescue effort in the village centered on the vicinity of Vance and Cherry streets, which rest along the Riley Creek.

Tuesday's flood in Bluffton was "the worst that we can ever remember," said Bowden, who has lived in the village 32 years.

About nine to 10 inches of rain fell on Bluffton from Monday evening through early Tuesday, according to the fire chief. More rain was falling Tuesday night.

High waters closed down travel on Vance Street, Cherry Street, College Avenue, North Main Street, Riley Street, Spring Street and Snider Road, as well as a section of North Countyline Road.

By 8:30 p.m., the waters had moved back, but North Main remained closed, as did College Avenue near the football stadium.

Many residential areas and businesses along Riley Creek will be mopping for days, if not weeks.

Jeff Kleman, owner of M&R Plumbing and Heating on Cherry Street, said he was out servicing customers with sump pump problems at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday and trying to move appliances and furnaces from his showroom by 6 a.m., when the water first inched inside his business.

Before it receded, the water got several feet deep, and would have flowed through the building had Kleman left the doors open.

"It was deeper outside, so if you opened the door it was going to come in," he said.

Kleman said his crew juggled customer requests with trying to minimize damage to the shop all day, and were able to move many appliances to other locations.

By 8:15 p.m. Tuesday the water was gone, but the carpet and mats were still soggy.

"It's nature," Kleman said, managing a smile during the cleanup. "It's life, you have to accept it and go on. We're just extremely blessed in Bluffton to have so many great people. We had lot of people helping us out all day."

The community support also was felt at 135 Cherry St.

There, Nancy Swisher said people she "didn't even know" showed up to help move furnishings from the first floor to the second floor — in case the flood waters continued to rise.

The Swishers' basement had filled up with water, which also flooded two vehicles parked in their garage.

"We've lived here for 14 years and this is the worst ever," Swisher said. "Some people are saying it's the worst they've seen in 47 years."

The Swisher family had to evacuate their home, as did the Pinks family on Riley Street.

Teresa Pinks, a Bluffton EMT, had gotten up at 4 a.m. to monitor emergency calls, and had to leave the home when Riley Creek crept about 50 feet from its banks and into their home.

"When it came, it came fast," Pinks said. "I think a lot of people were lucky to get out as safely as they could."

The Bluffton flooding, while significant, could have been even worse if not for a breech of two walls at the Bluffton Stone Quarry on the south side of the village.

Waters from the surging Riley crashed into the quarry when the walls caved in, filling it with water. The water actually caused severe erosion of the ground near Interstate 75, and was one of the reasons the highway was closed for a period of time Tuesday.

"It (the flooding of the quarry) was bad for the business, but probably a good thing for the village," Chief Skilliter said. "Had the water not gone in there, it would have ended up somewhere else in Bluffton."

Courier reporter Eric Schaadt contributed to this story.

Contact staff writer Steve Dillon at:

(419) 427-8423

stevedillon@thecourier.com

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Seen from the air, one wet county

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

Findlay from the ground might have looked wet Tuesday, but from the air it looked scary, like a memory of New Orleans in 2005. It looked like the levies had broken.

But this was Hancock County — the coast wasn't anywhere near, and we don't have any levies. But that didn't stop the water from coming and coming and coming.

I flew in a Tiffin Aire plane around Hancock County with the Courier's photographer, Randy Roberts, Tuesday afternoon, and a few hundred feet in the air showed me what I'd missed on the ground: whole city blocks submerged in water.

The houses hadn't gone completely under, but you couldn't see the streets. There weren't any driveways or lawns, there was just a murky brown liquid obscuring the landscape.

That liquid was covering most of Emory Adams Park and a chunk of Sixth Street, and several neighborhoods near Sixth Street.

The Findlay Garden Apartments on South Main Street swam in the murk; its residents had been evacuated.

The South Side Restaurant on U.S. 68 was surrounded by water.

The chocolately water stopped up Interstate 75 in places, too.

Homes in townships and villages around Findlay didn't fare much better.

Crop fields and horse farms were submerged, with nothing but white fencing poking up from the high water where green, rolling fields are normally visible. On some farms, the fencing visible through the water had crumbled.

From the air, Spring Lake, south of Findlay, was nearly indistinguishable from the subdivision named after it. Yards, streets and driveways had become the lake, and only trees and roofs rose above the liquid.

Strangely, long stretches of Hancock County seemed dry and untouched. Then, as the plane flew over places like Arlington and Bluffton, the waters returned: football stadiums became lakes, and whole neighborhoods were lost in pools of brown.

And other sights left me wide-eyed, even though no water was obvious. For example, part of I-75, which had been closed near Bluffton, was standing empty. That was so odd, so jarring, that it was almost worse than the flooded areas.

That vacant strip of highway had an apocalyptic feel, like the motorists had vanished in a single, sweeping catastrophe.

Actually, they hadn't. Cars and trucks stood here and there in tire-deep water, and motorists were either stranded or had been rescued by local crews.

Randy and I spotted once familiar scenes, like the baseball fields in Emory Adams Park, and noted that only the fences remained visible where baseball and soccer fields should have been.

Other flooded areas were far enough from the river to strike me as bizarre — a subdivision sunken here and there, a block of buildings under water.

Findlay was by far the worst, at least from the air. The south section of town and several parts in the middle were drenched, with roofs and trees poking above the flood — unlike the lawns, basements and people.

This is one wet county. Stay on high ground.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at:

(419) 427-8497

michellereiter@thecourier.com

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Southern Hancock County: 'I've never seen it this bad'

By J. STEVEN DILLON

STAFF WRITER

So much for the drought.

I knew it was bad when I looked out the window at 8 a.m. Tuesday and a 12-inch deep wheelbarrow outside the back door was overflowing with rain water. Monday night it had been empty.

Across southern Hancock County, including the neighborhood where I live near Ghost Town, many residents were experiencing the highest water levels they have ever seen.

By 9 a.m., water was already raging below the new bridge on County Road 37, and chocolate-colored water was boiling out of field drainage tiles nearby.

The water had no place to go but to places it had never been. At least not anytime that I could remember.

Like across a section of County Road 75, where even the worst floods had sent no more than an inch or two running across it in the 20 years since I moved to the country.

Eventually, my road was clogged with nearly four feet of water. To get to the other side to check on a neighbor's home, I ended up dragging the paddle boat out of the pond and using it to get to the other side.

My daughters, trapped at home with me this day, were thrilled beyond belief.

My water problems, though, were minor compared to others.

Motorists, trying to find a way to jobs in Findlay, found themselves maneuvering a maze of closed roads, many of which had not been subject to flooding before.

On little Eagle Township Road 74, water was creeping up and over the banks of Eagle Creek and near the cottage of Carole Elchert. It had never gotten so close.

"I've never seen it this bad," Elchert said, a look of panic on her face. "This is going to be bad for a lot of people."

Lois Steinman, who lives at the intersection of county roads 75 and 40, had two inches of water in her garage at 9 a.m. and 6-8 inches by 10:30 a.m. The Steinman's ranch home, normally dry even in the wettest times, was not immune to the flooding this time. To make matters worse, all roads leading from the residence where under water.

"It has never flooded like this before," she said.

Steinman, like many others in the southern part of the county, was caught in a dilemma by 10 a.m. Should she stay in her home, or evacuate?

"I think we're going to have to leave," she said. "We're walking out of here."

Elsewhere, the floodwaters were closing state and county roadways, making it nearly impossible to get anywhere. Arlington was nearly inaccessible and those places along rivers, streams and ditches were seeing water levels at record levels.

Fortunately, Eagle Creek and other streams and ditches were beginning to recede by evening in the southern portions of the county, including in my neighborhood.

But while that was good news, it was bad news for others since nearly all those waterways flow to Findlay.

Contact staff writer Steve Dillon at:

(419) 427-8423

stevedillon@thecourier.com

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Red Cross establishes shelter in local church

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

The people at St. Andrew's United Methodist Church looked weary and bewildered Tuesday. Some of them were eating, and others were wringing out wet clothes.

Findlay flood victims trickled into the Hancock County Red Cross shelter throughout the afternoon, and most of them had stories to tell.

"My granddaughter was spending the night," said Janice Kenton, who lives on U.S. 224 West. "She was sleeping on the living room floor, and she got up because her blankets felt wet. When she went into the kitchen to get some towels, water was on the floor."

Kenton took her granddaughter to the shelter where, even if they didn't end up spending the night, they could eat and register with the Red Cross for damage assessment and possible help.

She said the water rose in her house quickly, rising to nearly two feet. Kenton said she doesn't have flood insurance and just about everything on the first floor is ruined; muddy water is everywhere and even lower dresser drawers filled with water.

The two planned to stay in a motel Tuesday night.

Phyllis Davis, a Red Cross worker at the shelter, said more than 20 people would likely be spending Tuesday night at the shelter, and cots were spread out through the church's gym floor by evening.

Many people who came to the shelter didn't stay — people like Kenton and her granddaughter — but others had nowhere else to go.

Davis said among those staying the night were at least three homeless people who had been living under one of Findlay's bridges and were washed out.

Others were families with dogs or cats they didn't want to leave behind, but pets couldn't stay at the shelter.

"People can't keep pets here," she said.

So those with pets often ended up camped outside the shelter with leashes and kennels, waiting for relatives to pick them up.

Some places were taking pets, so their families could stay in shelters, like the Findlay Animal Clinic. Some individuals were doing that too.

Hancock County commissioner and veterinarian Emily Walton offered to take some pets to her home for the night if anyone needed it.

Davis said Red Cross workers helped people find places to lodge their animals, but many people opted to find other places to stay so they could stay with their pets.

People at the shelter Tuesday appeared shaken, and were still wide-eyed from flooding catastrophes that woke them in the early hours Tuesday morning.

Jamie Austin said she woke up at about 5 a.m. in her Foulke Avenue home to hear her basement wall collapsing as gallons of water gushed in.

"I heard the water just roaring," she said. "The basement wall caved in. I could literally see the washer floating in the basement."

Austin, her three children and her boyfriend hoped to stay with her grandmother for a while, but they stopped at the shelter in the afternoon.

Findlay wasn't the only place that had flood refugees. The Red Cross also set up a shelter at Arlington High School, and although the shelter there was busy in the morning, no one wanted to stay the night and the shelter closed.

St. Andrew's, meanwhile, was hopping. Chopin Hall donated dry clothes, shoes, socks and some bedding. The Spaghetti Shoppe offered the Red Cross dinners at discounted prices. And Red Cross volunteers worked for hours to help register displaced families, set up cots and coordinate help for anyone who needed it.

Some people weren't there because their houses were flooded, but because they had been forced to abandon their cars.

Matt Connode, a Whirlpool employee who lives in Kenton, had to leave his truck on Ohio 15 Tuesday morning, and became stranded in Findlay.

"The water was real high down there and they wouldn't let us through," he said.

He said he will "hang out in town" until the roads are clear.

Janice Wickerd, a resident at the Findlay Garden Apartments on South Main Street, planned to stay the night at St. Andrew's. Her apartment was surrounded by water and residents were evacuated.

She said she would remain at the shelter until she heard news that she could return.

Michelle Spikes' Harmon Street basement flooded, and she ate dinner at the shelter with her two children and three visiting children.

Peg and Sam Ellis, who live on East-View Drive off of Sixth Street, stood outside the shelter — they were headed to a niece's.

The couple said they'd lived on East-View Drive since 1975, and had never seen much flooding beyond a few puddles.

"This is the worst it's ever been," Peg said.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at:

(419) 427-8497

michellereiter@thecourier.com

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City, county road closings

Numerous streets and roads in Findlay and Hancock County remained closed late Tuesday night as the result of high water conditions.

The list of road closings was continuing to grow at The Courier deadline Tuesday.

The flooding of Riley Creek forced the Ohio Department of Transportation to close a section of Interstate 75 between the Ohio 235 exit and the village of Bluffton at 7 a.m.

After the water receded and the pavement was checked for damage, the interstate was reopened at 6 p.m.

City streets

As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Findlay Police Department had closed the following streets because of flooding:

• Main Street in downtown Findlay

• East Lima Street at Beech St.

• East Main Cross between Blanchard and Osborne

• 1600-2000 block of Tiffin Avenue

• County Road 236

• Eastowne Estates

• Broad at River Road

• Fox and Frazer

• Bright Road from Fostoria to Tiffin southbound

• Westfield between Bentley and County Road 140

• Brookside Drive from Sixth to Blanchard Avenue

• Lawn and Wilson, and East High and Blanchard

• Blanchard Avenue

• Central at Clinton

• Blanchard at Lincoln

• Second and Blanchard

• East Sandusky Street

• Lincoln and East Street

• Sandusky eastbound at Osborne

• Olive Street bridge

• East Main Cross from Marcelle to Bright

• Township roads 80 and 77 — Western and Spring Lake

• Sunhaven and Sixth

• South Main Street at Rosemont

• Township Road 81 at Ohio 15

• County Road 236 from Heatherwood to Ohio 568

• Fox and Howard

• Kirk and Penrose

• South and Wilson

• Washington Avenue at Olive Street

• East Street from East Main Cross to Front

• Washington Street at Marshall

• Findlay Street at Shinkle

• Defiance

• East Street from Crawford to Main

• Blanchard from Clinton to Tiffin

• Blanchard at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way

• East Main Cross at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way

• East Main Cross at South Main

• South Blanchard Street just south of Sixth Street

• East Lima Street at East Street

• Blanchard at Clinton

• East Street just south of East Lincoln Street to East Lima Street

• East Lima Street east to Park Street

• Park Street East Lima Street to first alley north of Hancock Street

• Hardin at East Street

• Selby Street

• Fishlock Avenue

• East Main Cross from South Main through Blanchard to Osborne

• Sixth Street

• Fifth Street

• Brookside Drive

• East-View Drive

• West-View Drive

• Crawford east to Blanchard

• Lincoln at East Street

• Broad Avenue at Findlay

• Defiance at North Cory

• Trenton at Main (no trucks southbound)

County and township roads

County and township roads closed due to flooding as of 7 p.m. include:

• County Road 12 between county roads 26 and 24

• County Road 8 between Ohio 15 and County Road 26

• County Road 26 between Ohio 37 and County Road 8

• County Road 24 between Township Road 22 and Ohio 37

• County Road 183 between township roads 151 and 150

• County Road 17 between Township Road 149 and Ohio 30

• County Road 153 between County Road 17 and Ohio 37

• County Road 18 between township roads 213 and 215

• County Road 216 between Township Road 260 and County Road 23

• County Road 216 between township roads 238 and 247

• County Road 7 between Ohio 568 and Township Road 253

• Township Road 208 between township roads 234 and 241

• County Road 223 between Ohio 224 to city limits

• County Road 96 between Ohio 186 and Ohio 225

• County Road 86 between Township Road 53 and County Road 16

Bridge closings

Bridge closings as of 7 p.m. included:

• County Road 12 between County Road 24 and Township Road 34

• County Road 313 between Township Road 38 and County Road 26

• Township Road 31 between township roads 66 and 68

• Township Road 32 between township roads 66 and 68

• Park Street Arlington between West Liberty Street and Adams Street

• Township Road 201 between Township Road 201 and Park Street.

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Flooding shuts down Carey

CAREY — Shawn Taylor's basement is flooded, his furnace is shot and he is without hot water or air conditioning at his East Findlay Street residence — but that's only the beginning of his troubles after flooding that caused a Level 3 emergency to be declared in the village on Tuesday.

Because of the flood, he is also now without transportation.

Taylor was driving to work on County Road 97, about two miles west of Ohio 15, around 5 a.m. Tuesday when his Dodge Magnum's engine stalled and the vehicle stopped dead in its tracks.

"I felt like I had just driven into a lake," he said. "The water just started gushing in and it killed the engine. I put on the brakes and went into reverse but it was too late."

The village of Carey was shut down by extensive flooding which started Monday night and continued through Tuesday.

A Level 3 emergency means residents should not be traveling, except for emergency purposes, since all roadways are officially closed down.

"It's the worst I've seen in 20 years," Village Administrator Roy Johnson said Tuesday afternoon as he handled numerous calls from anxious residents.

Taylor said he left the house early Tuesday morning aware of the heavy rainfall the night before, but didn't think too much of it.

"I knew it had rained all night, but it was pitch black out," he said. "I didn't see any signs for high water posted that early."

Taylor called 911 and was told to sit in the vehicle and wait for officers to arrive, but the car was slowly filling with water and he began to feel his seats — which are electrically heated — getting warm.

Fearful that the car was short-circuiting, Taylor got out and waited for the fire department to arrive.

When they arrived, the car was pulled by the fire truck to a fire fighter's house nearby.

Because so many roads were blocked, Taylor said he is waiting for the flooding to lessen before the vehicle can be taken to Findlay Quality Collision, where his insurance company can assess the damage.

As for his home, Taylor's landlord had driven in from Findlay and was using an industrial pump to empty water out of his basement and into a nearby creek on Tuesday evening.

Elsewhere, other Carey residents found their daily agendas altered by the flood.

William Savidge, an officer at the VFW Club, said the organization was forced to cancel its meeting Tuesday night after members found a knee-high pool of water inside the building at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

"We've got flood insurance, but all our coolers are probably shot, water got into all the units," he said. "We had to cancel the meeting, too — (with all the water) there's nowhere to have it."

Savidge and his wife, Cheryl, had gathered at a friend's East Findlay Street residence for the night, but found their other plans falling through as well.

"We wanted to order pizza, but all those places are closed," Cheryl said. "No restaurants, no pizza shops, nothing (is open)."

The flooding also caused some Carey residents to take on some extra duties for the day.

Mark Gossman, a County Road 96 resident, spent Tuesday evening on his mother's East Findlay Street porch watching traffic go by that had been routed from Ogg Road. The road is a designated a detour from U.S. 23, which was closed off. But he'd spent a large portion of the day directing traffic in that spot.

"There's a lot of semis coming through here and people can't get in and out," he said. "So I just went out and started directing traffic."

Gossman, who works in Upper Sandusky, said he had taken the day off and so far had already spent about four hours helping his nephew pump out his Grove Street basement. He also helped someone else pull their car out of water.

Several cars were reported to be completely underwater in the Commercial Bank parking lot behind Splinter's Cafe, a downtown eatery that was said to be filled with chest-high water early in the day.

Johnson said four feet of water was running down Brown Avenue early Tuesday and areas near downtown, along South Vance Street, were under water.

Heavy waters were also reported running east from Findlay Street to High Street.

Spring Run, one of two main storm water drainage ditches, was over its banks Tuesday, causing high water on Muncie, Lake and South streets.

All areas of the village were affected in some way by the situation, Johnson said.



Area flooding

Other area counties felt the wrath of the rainfall, too.

Putnam County received a reported 12 to 15 inches of rainfall on Monday and Tuesday, making many county roads impassable due to surface water runoff, according to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, the Blanchard River at Ottawa was 3.5 feet above flood stage and rising at a rate of 5 to 6 inches an hour, according to the National Weather Service.

The Seneca County Sheriff's Office reported high water on U.S. 224 east of Ohio 100, a usual problem area. Ohio 12 east near Bettsville was closed during the day, but was reported open by mid-afternoon.

Hardin County roads, mainly north of Kenton, were closed due to high water, according to the Hardin County Sheriff's Office. Motorists driving through water had to be rescued, a dispatcher said.

In Wyandot County, two Sycamore youths swept away in high waters at 6 p.m. Tuesday were saved by rescue personnel.

The boys, Samuel Witmer, 15, and John Biedelschies, 14, were on flotation toys and were swept away in a strong current from the recent rains.

At the scene were the Sycamore Fire and Police departments, and Wyandot County Sheriff's Office.

The youths were taken to Wyandot Memorial Hospital. They were in the water for 20 to 25 minutes.

Their conditions were not available late Tuesday.

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Flooding can bring contamination

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

The dangers associated with flooding don’t recede with the water.

Floodwaters may be contaminated from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural and industrial byproducts. That means anything those floodwaters have come in contact with could possibly be contaminated with diseases like cryptosporidium, giadia and E. coli.

The city of Findlay had no verified cases of illness resulting from flooding last winter, according to Findlay Deputy Health Commissioner Barbara Wilhelm.

“We didn’t have any cases directly associated with (flooding) that we can prove came from floodwater, but we did have some cases around that time,” Wilhelm said.

Once the waters have receded, homeowners should start the cleaning effort as soon as possible, Wilhelm said.

Here are some tips for cleaning up a flooded area:

• Wear rubber boots and gloves when cleaning.

• Remove anything that was soaked in floodwater, such as carpeting and mattresses.

• Remove drywall and insulation after flooding.

• Clean all hard surfaces with hot water and a disinfectant, such as bleach. The drying process can be expedited by using fans and dehumidifiers. Be particularly careful to thoroughly disinfect surfaces that may come in contact with food.

• Thoroughly wash yourself after cleaning in a flooded area.

• Make sure you clean your clothes with hot water and detergent after cleaning in a flooded area.

• Dispose of any food exposed to floodwaters. Canned goods can be saved, but the labels should be removed. After soaking the cans in a hot water and bleach solution (one cup of bleach to five gallons of water), the contents of the cans can be identified with a marker.

• Special care should also be taken if your refrigerator or freezer is without power for a long period. Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been above 40 degrees for two hours or more. Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.

• Open cuts or sores that have been exposed to floodwater should be kept as clean as possible by washing thoroughly with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling or drainage, seek medical treatment. If open wounds do become contaminated with floodwater and you have not received a tetanus shot in more than 10 years, you should contact your physician or the health department for vaccination.

• Wash children’s hands frequently and do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated with floodwater. Toys can be disinfected by using a solution of one cup bleach in five gallons of water.

The American Red Cross Hancock County chapter offers free flood cleanup kits at the office, located at 125 Fair St.

Kits include a mop, disinfectant, bleach, a broom, bucket, rubber gloves and rags. A cleanup kit should only be used once and then discarded.

Questions about cleaning procedures can be directed to the Findlay City Health Department by calling 419-424-7105.

Additional information on health and safety during a flood is available on the Internet at www.cdc.gov.

Contact staff writer John Graber at: (419) 427-8417 johngraber@thecourier.com

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County jobless rate declines

By LOU WILIN

STAFF WRITER

Hancock County's jobless rate declined in July to 5 percent from 5.1 percent a month earlier.

That mirrored much of the rest of the state. Unemployment dropped in 76 of Ohio's 88 counties.

In fact, 13 counties had lower unemployment rates than Hancock, which usually is among the five lowest.

The state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate declined to 5.8 percent in July from 6.1 percent a month earlier, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported.

Hancock County's numbers clearly improved: More people had jobs in July than in June, and fewer were unemployed.

Yet things were not as healthy as they had been a year earlier when Hancock County's jobless rate was 4.9 percent. The labor force was bigger then and more people had jobs.

State Job and Family Services Director Helen Jones-Kelley could just as well have been talking about Hancock County when she expressed ambivalence about the statewide numbers.

"The labor market data showed mixed results in July," she said.

While the number of unemployed Ohioans decreased from June to July to 344,000, that actually was 14,000 more than in July 2006.

Mercer County, southwest of Allen County, had the lowest unemployment rate in the state in July, at 4 percent. Pike County, in southern Ohio, had the highest rate — 8.7 percent.

Most of Hancock County's neighbors saw their unemployment rates increase last month. Those counties, with the June rates in parentheses, were: Henry, 6.8 percent (6.2); Putnam, 5.8 percent (5.3); Seneca, 6.1 percent (6); Wood, 5.9 percent (5.8).

Jobless rates decreased in Hardin County, 6.2 percent (6.7), and Wyandot, 6.5 percent (6.8).

Allen County's rate was 6.9 percent for both months.

The U.S. unemployment rate for July was 4.6 percent, up from 4.5 percent in June.

Contact staff writer Lou Wilin at:

(419) 427-8413

louwilin@thecourier.com

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Developer pulls complex plans

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

The immediate possibility of a controversial apartment complex being built on Township Road 212, north of U.S. 224, seems to be off again.

The developer who was eyeing the 32-acre site for a 170-unit, single story apartment complex has told city officials he does not want to build there.

Cleveland-based developer Keith Ritz has told the city he can't move construction crews to the site in time to keep them on schedule, so he is backing away from the site, according to Findlay City Councilman-at-Large Jim Slough.

"He just didn't want to run the risk of proceeding without any guarantee," Slough said Monday afternoon.

Findlay City Council voted during its Aug. 7 meeting to annex the 32-acre tract off of Township Road 212 and designate it as A Residential, which would exclude the possibility of building the apartment complex on the site. That appeased the crowd of about 50 area residents opposed to the apartment complex who showed up for the meeting.

However, 2nd Ward Councilman Rich Rowe, who represents that area, announced Friday that he was going to ask council tonight to reconsider rezoning the property on Township Road 212 to C Residential, which would allow the apartment complex. After reviewing the issue, Rowe felt as though the concerns area residents raised about the apartment complex, such as drainage and traffic issues, were not justified.

However, Rowe will not need to call for that vote because Ritz has told the city he doesn't want to build on the site after all.

Ritz has declined to comment about the situation to The Courier.

Ritz does still have the option of building a 76-unit apartment complex near the intersection of Fostoria and Bright Road though.

Ritz and his partner Steve Kimmelman recently won a court ruling over the city on their right to build the apartments near Fostoria and Bright Road. However, they agreed to switch their sights to Township Road 212 site if the city rezones the area as C Residential, which would allow for construction of apartments.

The city's battle over apartments at the Fostoria Avenue-Bright Road intersection stems from a concern that Findlay has too many apartments and vacancies. In an attempt to slow the growth in apartments, city council in 2005 banned construction of housing in areas zoned for business use. Many of the new apartments were sprouting up in those areas.

Just days before the ban was enacted, Ritz filed his plans for apartments in the Fostoria Avenue-Bright Road area, which was zoned for business use.

In an attempt to stall Ritz's plans until they would be under the sway of the newer, stricter zoning rules, Mayor Tony Iriti cited a technicality in Ritz's application. The planning commission made Ritz refile his plans after the ban took effect, which would have blocked the apartment project.

Ritz sued the city and won, allowing him to build apartments on the northeast corner of the intersection.

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Tax breaks approved for new ethanol plant

By JIM MAURER

Staff Writer

FOSTORIA — The company which broke ground last week on a $130 million ethanol production plant on the city's eastern edge, received support from city council Tuesday when four ordinances — including several which will provide tax breaks for the company — were approved as emergency legislation Tuesday night.

Council also approved four resolutions that will change the city charter, if voters give their approval in the Nov. 6 general election.

A Toledo man also addressed council about opening a "gaming" operation in the downtown area.

POET Bio-refining is constructing a facility to produce 60 million gallons of ethanol annually off Ohio 12 east and Yokum Road. The facility is expected to open in the fall of 2008.

One of the four ordinances will allow the facility, which has been annexed to the city, to be included in the Community Reinvestment Area, a citywide designation which provides real property tax breaks to business and industry which locate within the boundaries.

The company will receive a 90 percent tax break off real property taxes for 15 years.

Another ordinance provides tax breaks from the city for the companies involved in the construction of the plant. The construction work is expected to create 30-40 additional jobs.

The city approved the legislation as part of an overall economic development effort, effective in January, to bring business and industry to town and increase the city's tax base.

A third ordinance provides for a Tax Increment Financing Agreement to make necessary improvements to Ohio 12 to handle the additional traffic.

The road project will be financed with tax money paid by companies in the area which benefit from the improvements. Meanwhile, the agreement ensures the school district will receive its regular tax revenue on the property.

The final ordinance requires that the company not discriminate in its hiring at the facility.

Meanwhile, the four resolutions making the first changes to the charter, which became effective Jan. 1, are as follows:

• There should be staggered four-year terms for city council members and council president.

• The position of law director should be appointed by the mayor, with city council approval.

• The appointment of the assistant fire chief should be done by the mayor, either from within the department or outside the department.

• There should be non-partisan election of city officials.

The four items were all approved unanimously by council, except the non-partisan issue. Council member Barb Marley, D-At-Large, voted against the measure.

She previously said she favored party selection and would vote against the issue.

Keith T. Holt, of Toledo, approached council seeking quick approval of a "change in use" permit from the zoning department.

He wants to open a "gaming" operation in a building at 126 S. Main St., the former location of a coffee shop. Holt said he prefers downtown locations and operates such businesses in Findlay, Sandusky and Port Clinton. The one in Findlay is behind Rancho Fiesta on Tiffin Avenue, he said.

Holt said there would be no alcohol at the operation, which would include 18 games and several pool tables. He said the operations are legal under Ohio law. He called the business an "arcade" which attracts the bingo crowd of 50-60 year old residents. He requested quick action because he had the machines "on the truck ready to be unloaded."

But Zoning Inspector Tiffaney Shaver said she wanted to know which games he would have at the location, among other information. Council took no action on the matter.

Mayor John Davoli, said he had gotten calls from "several folks with trepidation" about the business locating in the city.

Councilwoman Carol Boos, D-At-Large, said she had reservations about putting such a business in the downtown district before an overall plan is developed by the city, chamber of commerce and Fostoria Economic Development Corp.

Davoli also gave the oath of office to two new police officers, which brings the department to 24 full-time officers, one shy of full strength. Officer Jeff Huffman recently took disability retirement.

One new officer, Travis Ricker, 25, lives in Fostoria, but graduated from Arcadia High School. He completed the Owens Community College Police Academy in 2006.

He served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a military policeman from 2001-2005, including a 9-month tour in Iraq. He has been a part-time officer for the Leipsic Police Department since 2006.

The other, Jacob B. Scully, 24, is a 2002 Fremont Ross High School graduate. He graduated from Terra Community College's Police Academy in 2005 and has been a full-time police officer with Green Springs Police Department since then.

He is married and has two children.

Contact Staff Writer Jim Maurer at:

(419) 427-8420

jimmaurer@thecourier.com

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Fostoria man convicted of assault of 2-year-old

TIFFIN — A Fostoria man was found guilty of felonious assault and endangering children, in connection with the abuse of a 2-month-old infant at a Fostoria residence in September 2005, during a recent appearance in Seneca County Common Pleas.

Brian H. Giesey, 23, was sentenced to seven years in prison for causing serious physical harm to the child, according to Seneca County Prosecutor Ken Egbert Jr.

The child was taken to Fostoria Community Hospital on Sept. 25, 2005. Hospital personnel suspected child abuse because of a skull fracture, swelling of the head and retinal hemorrhages in both eyes. The youngster was transported to Toledo Hospital and suffered nearly a total loss of motor functions and other permanent brain injury.

The injuries occurred from Giesey shaking the youngster and then striking the infant during an early morning feeding at the residence. The child suffered from a treatable medical condition at birth which required frequent, but manageable , parental care.

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Public Record

Docket

The following incidents were reported to the Findlay Police Department and the Hancock County Sheriff's Office:

Police Department

Items were removed Monday from a purse at 614 Liberty St.

Two girls were in trouble Monday for shoplifting earrings from Claires, 1800 Tiffin Ave.

A male — wanted under a warrant — was also charged with obstructing official business Monday at 1208 Bernard Ave.

Two persons were involved in an altercation at 945 Central Ave. on Monday.

A domestic disturbance occurred at an East Melrose Avenue abode Monday.

Authorities handled a claim Monday that a youth had been bruised by his mother's boyfriend.

Sheriff's Office

A rural Findlay teen was questioned about a report of an underage drinking gathering at 10206 Edgewood Drive in July.

An attempted burglary was reported Sunday at 2800 S. Main St., 201.

Someone set a small fire in the front yard Monday at 2401 Cass Township Road 232.

Anyone with information about a crime can call Findlay/Hancock County Crimestoppers

between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays at (419) 425-TIPS, or visit the Web at www.

HancockCrimeStoppers.org.

Callers may remain anonymous.

Municipal Court

The following persons were sentenced in Findlay Municipal Court:

Joshua I. Dulaney, 344 E. Hardin St., 107, resisting arrest and aggravated disorderly conduct; $750 fine, 120 jail days with 30 suspended.

Jennifer J. Morris, 10001 Township Road 139, speed; $105 fine.

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