Saturday, August 25th, 2007


Federal inspectors assess local flood damage
Hancock County residents and business owners should know soon -- perhaps in the next couple of days -- if they will be able to apply for federal relief as a result of the extensive damage caused by this week’s flood.
more >>
State workers may help with debris cleanup
Local government officials who met with Ohio Emergency Management Agency representatives Saturday morning had two major things on their minds — trash pickup and disaster relief.
more >>
Local stores see big demand for sump pumps, dehumidifiers, cleanup supplies
Chad and Jody Guckes have already bought two dehumidifiers to dry out their flooded basement, two miles north of Forest, but they still need a lot of other supplies to restore their home.
more >>
Heavy rains Friday prompt flood watch
The Blanchard River had dropped two feet below flood stage by late Friday, but heavy rains were causing some fears about new flooding.
more >>
Trash piles sprouting
With the floodwaters rapidly disappearing in Findlay, city and county officials are now focusing on other problems. One of the major ones is trash.
more >>
Beware of scam artists, flood victims warned
In the aftermath of the flood, an even darker, more sinister side of nature will seep into Findlay’s streets.
more >>
Flood losses shocking, painful to victims
After being at their home on West-View Drive for 32 years, Peg and Samuel Ellis are packing up and leaving Findlay.
more >>
Ottawa under curfew, boil advisory
OTTAWA — Parts of Ottawa were under a curfew Friday night and that village as well as several others in Putnam County were under a boil water advisory and water use restrictions as the Blanchard River was still nearly 7 feet over flood stage.
more >>
Ottawa flood victims starting to assess damage
OTTAWA — "I lost everything," Sheryl Okuley, of East Second Street, Ottawa, said Friday afternoon while she was waiting for a ride to work at a local nursing home.
more >>
161 stay at shelter Thursday
People at the Cube, Hancock County's Red Cross shelter, had thinned out by Friday afternoon, but that didn't mean people weren't going to stay the night.
more >>
Local man sticks by dog even during flood evacuation
Mike Phillips and his dog, Sadie, have been inseparable since the 11-year-old dog was 10 days old.
more >>
County assessing building damage
Downtown county buildings sustained somewhere in the vicinity of $350,000-$550,000 from this week's flood, Hancock County Commissioner Ed Ingold said Friday.
more >>
Dow Chemical lends a helping hand to workers
In times of crisis, the support of family and friends can make all the difference.
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Inmates brought back to county jail
Summer "vacation" is over for the 86 inmates who were moved from the Hancock County Justice Center Wednesday due to flooding concerns.
more >>
Library closing may be longer than expected
It's likely the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library will be closed longer than originally expected, according to Sybil Galer, library director.
more >>
Flood-related briefs
Decision coming on when Marathon will reopen
more >>
Community prayer service slated Sunday
By MARGARET DWIGGINS
more >>
United Way awards funds to Red Cross
The United Way of Hancock County has awarded an additional $5,000 to the local chapter of the American Red Cross to assist with unexpected expenses of managing the recent flood disaster. The funds are being distributed out of the United Way's emergency reserve fund and do not come from campaign funds.
more >>
Public Record
Docket
more >>
Findlay woman hurt in accident
A Findlay woman sustained injuries after a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of West Trenton Avenue and Bolton Street on Friday evening, according to the Hancock County Sheriff's Office.
more >>
Local News

Federal inspectors assess local flood damage

By J. STEVEN DILLON

STAFF WRITER

Hancock County residents and business owners should know soon -- perhaps in the next couple of days -- if they will be able to apply for federal relief as a result of the extensive damage caused by this week’s flood.

On Saturday, two inspectors, one from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the other from the Small Business Administration (SBA), toured some of the hardest-hit areas in Findlay and Hancock County to survey the damage.

They were escorted by Hancock County Commissioners Emily Walton and Phillip Riegle and a representative from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (OEMA).

Stops were made on Wilch Street on the south side of Arlington, and on Clinton Street, just east of Main Street in downtown Findlay.

The SBA inspector also collected damage estimates from some of the affected business owners along Findlay’s Main Street.

The inspectors are expected to complete their assessments, basically a rough estimate of the flood damage in the area, on Sunday and will forward the reports to the OEMA, which has already conducted preliminary damage assessments.

The OEMA would then make a formal request to FEMA for federal relief.

If a federal disaster declaration is made, and Hancock County qualifies, FEMA would establish a local Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). Individuals, property owners and business owners could then apply for relief in the form of low-interest loans and grants.

Further information about the application process will be made available if Hancock County is found to be eligible for federal funding.

“This is just one step in the process,” Commissioner Walton said Saturday. “FEMA has not set up shop here yet, but they would if the declaration is made.”

Saturday’s tour of flood-damaged property began from the Emergency Operations Center at the county engineer’s office and made its way to Arlington, where inspectors viewed homes along Wilch Street.

At 205 Wilch St., John Shepherd said he would welcome federal relief to help cover his losses, but said he has already been assisted by neighbors, family and friends.

Shepherd said Buck Run dumped about 15 inches of water throughout his home.

A car parked in the garage was also damaged.

“I hope we get the declaration, but I understand it will take a while to actually see a check,” Shepherd said. “In the meantime, I’ve had people offering to help me do whatever I need. It’s really amazing how this community is pulling together.”

The inspectors asked the residents and businesses they approached for rough estimates of their losses. It was not immediately known how much flood damage is needed to make the county eligible for federal relief.

In Findlay, the inspectors were escorted down Main Street, which is still lined with mounds of debris that have been pushed to the curb by downtown businesses. Nearly all of those on Main Street were flooded between Center and Hardin.

The SBA representative also stopped at the home of Lois and James Speck, 204 Clinton St. That home, like almost all residences in the area, was heavily damaged. The Specks lost the contents of the basement and first floor, and the flood is believed to have also caused structural damage.

With or without federal assistance, the Specks, who are insured, are ready to leave the neighborhood.

“We moved here four years ago and have had five floods,” Lois Speck said. “If we can get some help to get out, we’ll leave. It’s just too much to go through.”

While some downtown business owners have already committed to rebuild, others may not survive the flood without federal help.

Warren Krout, owner of Sour-Flower Trading Post, 204 N. Main St., said the flood “wiped” him out. Furnishings and other items he intended to sell at his pawn shop were piled by the curb and headed to the dump.

“If I can get some federal help I’ll be able to open up again,” he said. “If I don’t, I may be able to, but it’s going to take me much longer.”

Inspections like the one in Hancock County are also being conducted this weekend by FEMA and SBA teams in eight other counties declared as state disaster areas by Gov. Ted Strickland.

Besides Hancock, those counties include Putnam, Allen, Hardin, Richland, Van Wert, Wyandot and Crawford.

Contact staff writer J. Steven Dillon at: (419) 427-8423 stevedillon@thecourier.com

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State workers may help with debris cleanup

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

Local government officials who met with Ohio Emergency Management Agency representatives Saturday morning had two major things on their minds — trash pickup and disaster relief.

Renee Young, an OEMA field liaison who attended the meeting, urged officials to get information to the state on flood-related needs quickly in order to get help in a timely manner.

The meeting, which included county, city, township, village and hospital officials, was held at Hancock County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which is located at the Hancock County Engineer’s building, 1900 Lima Ave.



Trash pickup

Young told officials that Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) employees can be dispatched to help local governments dispose of flood-related trash. She said ODOT workers can be pulled from across the state to help.

But, she said, local officials will first have to submit “missions” to the Ohio EPA, outlining specific trash pickup needs and disposal plans.

Young said the plans should be completed and submitted as soon as possible. She also advised officials to keep trash pickup plans confined to a week, for health and sanitary reasons.

“We’re going to start having maggots because of the temperatures,” Young said.

The logistics of collecting and disposing of trash and debris from the flood in a timely manner dominated much of the meeting Saturday.

Trash is piling up in Findlay, in the county and in the townships and villages. While Marion Township representatives said they’ve gotten much of their debris cleared out, most others are struggling.

Officials were advised to tell residents to leave their trash at the curb to cut down on landfill traffic. Also, landfill fees have not been waived, so residents would have to pay to unload their trash.

Residents should check with their local jurisdiction first, as many of them have trash and debris removal services for damaged areas.

The landfill will be open for disposal Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Villages and townships that want to have a controlled burn for trash would have to apply to OEPA.

The city will continue with trash pickup for flood victims. Residents are being encouraged to put debris at the curb for pickup, but no regular trash will be accepted.



Disaster relief

Young said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) team which is conducting a field survey today will only be here for one day.

FEMA will be conducting what Young called a “windshield survey.”

“They’re not going to talk to every resident,” she said, “but just because they’re not going to talk to every resident doesn’t mean they’re not going to help.”

OEMA has already conducted its preliminary damage assessment. The results of the assessments and surveys will go to the state level next.

Based on the FEMA survey, the federal government will determine whether to declare Hancock County a disaster area.

If that happens, FEMA will be able to set up stations in the city quickly, Young said. Phone numbers will be publicized to call for help.

FEMA would also be setting up a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC), which people would be able to contact by a toll-free number, or access online to apply for assistance.

Individuals, businesses and public agencies would be able to apply for help.



Current status

Hancock County Emergency Management Agency Director Garry Valentine announced that the Blanchard River level had fallen Saturday to 6 feet — well below flood stage — and that the county is starting to recover.

“The EOC has switched from being rescue to recovery,” he said.

He urged everyone at the meeting to let the EOC know what they needed.

“If you need any type of help, let us know about it,” he said. “But don’t tell us what you want — tell us what your mission is.”



Information for residents

What flood victims should do first:

Officials were advised to tell residents to contact their insurance companies first.

They were also told to document everything they do or have done in regards to the cleanup.

Residents should take pictures of the damage and keep all records of expenses incurred.



Health information

Floodwater is contaminated and residents are being advised to take precautions if they’ve been exposed to it.

Tetanus shots are advised for anyone exposed to floodwater, if they haven’t had a shot in the last five years. Shots are available at Physicians Plus Urgent Care and at the emergency room at Blanchard Valley Hospital. A fee will be charged for the shot, but no one will be turned away if they are unable to pay.

A Tetanus/Diptheria (TD) vaccine clinic will be held Sunday at the Findlay City Municipal Building from noon-4 p.m. The shots will be limited to those who have received a puncture wound or have a wound contaminated with feces, soil or saliva during the flood recovery.

The vaccine will only be available to people 11 years old or older. Those under 18 must have parental consent.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at: (419) 427-8497 michellereiter@thecourier.com

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Local stores see big demand for sump pumps, dehumidifiers, cleanup supplies

By Megan Schmidt

Staff Writer

Chad and Jody Guckes have already bought two dehumidifiers to dry out their flooded basement, two miles north of Forest, but they still need a lot of other supplies to restore their home.

The couple was searching for a furnace filter at Menards on Flag City Drive this week.

“If moisture got into the old filter, it could grow mold,” Chad said. “It’s mostly precautionary.”

The Guckes were just two of many who were out shopping at Findlay’s home improvement stores, seeking tools and supplies they hope can be used to make the repairs.

“The traffic in our store has probably doubled over the past couple days,” Ron Myers, store manager at Home Depot on Tiffin Avenue, said. “It’s been overwhelming.”

Among the most popular items sold since the flood have been sump pumps, fans, dehumidifiers and cleaning supplies, Myers said.

“At first it was the sump pumps that were going fast, now it’s switched to things like disinfectants, trash bags, latex gloves,” he said.

Mary Parkins, store manager at Lowe’s on Bright Road, said that more than 1,000 dehumidifiers had been sold there since the flooding began.

She said delivery truck drivers have also been making midnight runs to a sump pump factory in Ashland to ensure the store has enough to sell to people coming in looking for a way to pump water out of their basements.

Inside the store, shopping carts filled with yellow rubber boots for sale lined the customer service desk.

Parkins said increased traffic in Lowe’s has caused her to pull in employees from stores in Toledo.

“We’re missing a lot of employees who are at home cleaning up like everybody else,” she said.

Isaac and Brenda Shelton, who live south of Arlington, expect repairs to their flooded family room, bedroom and garage will cost them a few thousand dollars.

The Sheltons were purchasing a dehumidifier at Menards to help dry out those areas, which they said had been filled with 10 inches of water.

Dustin Rolofson, assistant store manager at Menards, said many customers also have sought supplies like cleaning brushes, bleach, gloves and trash bags in large quantities.

Rolofson said Menards has been staying open late to assist customers when cleanup issues arise.

“We’ve been staying open a little late every night with people calling in with sump pump problems,” he said. “If they call in and let us know they’re coming a few minutes before closing, we don’t have a problem staying after.”

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Heavy rains Friday prompt flood watch

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

The Blanchard River had dropped two feet below flood stage by late Friday, but heavy rains were causing some fears about new flooding.

Hancock County remains under a flood watch through this morning as another round of thunderstorms hit the area late Friday night and early today.

The National Weather Service predicted that in excess of 2 inches of rain was possible overnight and that any amount of rain could produce flooding because the ground is already saturated.

In Northwest Ohio, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Seneca and Wood counties were also under a flood watch.

The weather service had recorded .38 inch of rain falling in Findlay as of 11 p.m. Friday. The heavier rain was expected to move east of the area by this afternoon.



Guard requested

National Guardsmen should be on their way to Findlay soon, but only for cleanup duties following this week's record-tying flood.

Findlay Mayor Tony Iriti on Friday requested that Guard troops be brought in, but he did not ask for military police to patrol neighborhoods that were flooded.

"Our police department is confident they can handle" that, Iriti said.

What is needed is manpower to clean up the staggering mess left by the flooding, Iriti said.

"We've got the trucks to haul it, we've got the equipment to load, we just need people," Iriti said.



Damage assessment

The American Red Cross is estimating that somewhere around 3,000 families here have been affected by the flooding, though the extent of that damage is not yet clear.

Red Cross damage assessment teams are on the ground trying to get a handle on how bad things are.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency also have damage assessment teams in Hancock, Putnam, Wyandot, Crawford and Richland counties.

They hope to have an initial assessment of the damage prepared by the end of the weekend. They will then provide a report to the governor, who will forward it to federal officials to determine whether enough damage has been incurred to declare the area a federal disaster area, Ohio EMA spokesman Tom Hunter said Friday.

If that declaration is made, area residents may be eligible for federal assistance.



Red Cross responds

In the meantime, Red Cross emergency response vehicles are being coordinated to distribute food, water and cleaning supplies but are not out on the streets of Findlay yet, American Red Cross spokeswoman Lynn Cook said.

The agency is expecting to set up a service center in Findlay, maybe as soon as today.

At the service center, Red Cross workers will be able to meet with families impacted by the flood to assess what their needs are and provide assistance to them. The agency hopes to announce the center's location and operating hours soon.

In the meantime, questions and other concerns should be directed to 800-733-2767.

Food, shelter and cleaning supplies are available at the Cube, 3430 N. Main St.



State assistance

Financial assistance also is available through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Families with limited income are eligible for up to $1,500, while the elderly and disabled are eligible for up to $750 per person.

To apply for this assistance, residents should contact their local county office of Job and Family Services. In Hancock County, that is located at 7814 County Road 140, Findlay. The phone number is 419-422-0182.

People also should contact their individual insurance companies.

People should take pictures of the damage they have suffered in order to document the situation as best as possible.



Trash pickup

Findlay crews on Friday began picking up flood-related debris placed on the curb in front of people's homes. Electronics should be separated because they will be diverted to the Litter Landing recycling center.

The city crews are beginning to pile the flood-related refuse at Emory Adams Park. Crews are using it as a staging area, but private individuals should not take their garbage there, Findlay Service Director Mike Sobczyk said.

The city has contracted with H&O Services to handle trash pickup this weekend.

"We're going to give our public works guys a break in the action," Sobczyk said. "They've been working around the clock."

Street sweepers, trucks and other heavy equipment from the state have already been deployed in the cleanup effort, Sobczyk said.



Hunter's Creek

Meanwhile, the city is trying to drain the flooded retention pond in the Hunter's Creek subdivision.

"We contracted with Alvada Construction to get some pumps out there and help that pond to drain a little faster, as fast as it can," Sobczyk said Friday. "That's all we can do."



River recedes

The Blanchard River slipped just below flood stage (11 feet) around 10 a.m. Friday morning, Sobczyk said.

At 9 p.m. Friday, the river level was at 9 feet — or half of its peak height during the flood.

Findlay Fire Chief Tom Lonyo said a total of about 900 people were rescued or evacuated during the Findlay flooding.

The Findlay city emergency call center closed at 9 p.m. Friday and is expected to be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Hours have not been set for Sunday. The number for the center is 419-424-7000.

The flooding in Findlay and Hancock County has claimed the life of one person. Gale Augsburger, 92, of McComb, died Thursday after trying to get out of his vehicle, which was trapped in high water on Ohio 235, north of County Road 86 in Blanchard Township.



Flooding tour

American Red Cross National President Mark Everson toured areas affected by the flooding on Friday.

It is clear that some of the homes in the area have been completely destroyed, said Everson, who saw a mobile home that had chest-high water on Wednesday.

In addition to meeting material needs, more than 300 Red Cross staff and employees are working to meet the emotional needs of those hit by the flood.

"Obviously, when you lose everything, and some have ... there's a lot of coping that takes place," Everson said. "That's why we have trained staff that will help them with the immediate stages of what will be (an emotional) journey."

Everson noted the Red Cross has responded to an increasing number of large-scale operations over the last two years.

In 2005 the Red Cross responded to nine disasters that required bringing in volunteers from outside the area for response. In 2006 that number was 32, and it's already at 42 with five months left in 2007.



Red Cross shelters

The American Red Cross has four shelters open throughout flood-affected areas of Ohio. People who need a safe place to stay and/or a warm meal should go to one of the shelters at:

• Findlay — the Cube, 3420 N. Main St., Findlay.

• Ottawa — Boy Scouts building.

• Miller City — Sportsman's Club (for special needs clients only).

• Carey — Ridge Chapel.

The Red Cross is partnering with the Salvation Army to collect clothing. People wishing to donate clothes should take them to the Salvation Army in Findlay, 301 Center St.

To volunteer to help those affected by the flooding, contact the United Way at 419-423-1432.

People wishing to make a financial contribution to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund can call 1-800-HELP-NOW or visit www.redcross.org.

Financial contributions are also being accepted at local Red Cross chapters.



Tetanus vaccinations

The Findlay City Health Department is holding a tetanus/diphtheria vaccination clinic from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the municipal building lobby, 318 Dorney Plaza. Vaccination supplies are limited and will be reserved for people who have received a puncture wound or have had a wound contaminated with feces, soil or saliva during the flooding.

Anyone who has had a tetanus/diptheria vaccination in the last five years does not need another. Vaccinations are only available to people over 11 years of age.

Contact staff writer John Graber at:

(419) 427-8417

johngraber@thecourier.com

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Trash piles sprouting

By J. STEVEN DILLON

STAFF WRITER

With the floodwaters rapidly disappearing in Findlay, city and county officials are now focusing on other problems. One of the major ones is trash.

While trash pickup has begun, many city streets are still lined with soggy carpet, appliances, and other waterlogged furnishings as homeowners drag flood-damaged items to the curb.

The debris was mounting by the minute Friday as people continued the massive cleanup of their homes and businesses following this week’s record-tying flood.

City crews labored throughout the day Friday in the hardest-hit areas, trying to make a dent in the debris, and used sites at both Emory Adams Park and Cooper Field on Broad Avenue to temporarily dump the trash.

Findlay Service Director Mike Sobczyk said the trash will eventually be reloaded onto trucks and taken to the Hancock County landfill.

“We’re trying to get it moved off the ground as quickly as possible, but because of the volume, it’s going to take a while,” Sobczyk said.

On Friday, city crews got assistance from both Alvada Construction and the Ohio Department of Transportation, which provided trucks and drivers. This weekend, the city workers will be spotted by H&O Services, which will take over the trash pickup duties.

The massive trash removal effort is already creating increased business -- and traffic -- at the landfill, located on Allen Township Road 107. At about 2 p.m. Friday, there was reportedly a line of 200 trucks waiting to dump their loads.

“It is getting backed up out there,” County Commissioner Emily Walton said. “We’re making efforts to try to remedy that, but we (Hancock County customers) aren’t the only ones using it (the landfill). Putnam County also takes trash there, and they were hard hit by the flooding too.”

Walton said Friday that the county had obtained permission from the EPA to extend landfill hours today and to be open on Sunday in an attempt to reduce the waiting line at the landfill.

The landfill will be open from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both today and Sunday.

Walton said the traffic flow at the landfill could improve if individual homeowners and small business operators avoid hauling their own refuse there for the time being, and allow the commercial haulers to do it.

Some townships and villages are conducting flood trash pickups like the city of Findlay, and Walton said property owners should check with their local officials for specific details about trash removal in their jurisdiction.

Any flood trash should not include any hazardous materials such as oil or fuel, and electronics should be separated from other debris and recycled at Litter Landing on East Sandusky Street.

Findlay residents are being asked not to dump trash at either the Emory Adams or Cooper Field locations.

Residents also are being asked to place any unneeded sandbags on the curb for collection.

Contact staff writer J. Steven Dillon at: (419) 427-8423 stevedillon@thecourier.com

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Beware of scam artists, flood victims warned

By LOU WILIN

STAFF WRITER

In the aftermath of the flood, an even darker, more sinister side of nature will seep into Findlay’s streets.

Scam artists are flocking to town to rip off people in need of home repairs and cleaning.

Northwest Ohio Better Business Bureau President Richard Eppstein calls them “storm chasers.”

“The vultures are going to come out,” adds Findlay Police Crime Prevention Bureau Sgt. Mike Martien.

They come from other states, passing themselves off as building contractors, plumbers, furnace specialists, carpet and house cleaners.

Before they do any work, they want full payment, or a large percentage of it. After they get the money, they may do no work, or they may make it look like they have done something ... and then vanish.

The disaster victim becomes a victim a second time.

Martien suggests flood victims talk with a trusted family member or friend before paying anyone or signing any contracts.

“They’re in a state of shock,” Martien said of the flood victims. “Mentally they’re out of the game.”

At a time when a flood victim emotionally wants assurance that the nightmare will soon be over, the smooth-talking scam artist presents himself as just the right person.

“They try to make it look like they’re the answer to all their problems,” Martien said.

Eppstein said people also should be wary of high-pressure or scare tactics in which someone claims your home is unsafe. Those concerned about possible structural damage should hire an engineer or architect to inspect the house.

Instead of jumping at the first offer of aid, people should take the time to receive bids from three different contractors for whatever job they need done, Eppstein and Martien said.

Approach only local companies, they said, and ask them to provide a list of people they have served. Then call those people and ask about what kind of work the contractors did.

Ask contractors to show proof of insurance and a worker’s compensation certificate. Otherwise you could be left paying the bills if the contractor makes a mistake or something else goes wrong, according to Eppstein.

Also, local contractors said you should not pay the entire bill in advance. The standards for a down payment vary somewhat among types of contractors and individual firms.

But Hancock County Home Builders Association President Barry Simmons said he “never” would make a 50 percent down payment for structural repairs.

Make a written agreement that links payments with the progress of the work. Stipulate that the final payment will be made “upon satisfactory completion” of the work.

While everybody likes a good deal, Simmons said people should be wary of someone promising repairs for much less than everybody else.

“You get what you pay for,” he said.



Avoid dirty players

Many people now need their homes scrubbed and sanitized, but if they are not careful they can be taken to the cleaners.

Servpro of Hancock County owner Rick Franks said people should ask carpet and home cleaners to show proof of liability insurance.

They should have at least $1 million coverage, he said. Franks also recommends people hire a local company.

Servpro asks for a 50 percent down payment, with the balance to be paid when the work is done. For a company to ask for a larger down payment would be “ridiculous,” he said.

Eppstein added that any furniture that has been submerged will need to be reupholstered or refinished if it can be saved at all.



Information pipelines

Those needing plumbing, furnace or water heater repairs are safest when they look for a local contractor who can show proof of licensing and insurance.

To work in Findlay, plumbers must be registered with the City Health Department, said Larry Kresser, owner of Kresser Plumbing and Heating.

By calling the health department at 419-424-7105, people can learn if there have been many complaints about a particular plumber.

Plumbing and heating contractors should show proof of registration with the Better Business Bureau. People then should call the BBB office to learn what they can about the contractor.



Washed-up cars

If someone offers you a great deal on a car, give it a thorough checking for water damage.

A car that was bathed in Blanchard River overflow can be headed for engine or transmission damage and electrical malfunctions, said Tom Fields, owner of Fields Service.

Check under the hood and behind the engine for mud, debris or stains, said Jerry Crouch, owner of Crouch’s Auto Repair.

Other hard-to-reach spots that swindlers might not bother to clean are under the dashboard or behind the kick panels on the side of the front passenger compartment. If you remove the panel and find a muddy residue on wires, it’s a bad sign, Fields said.

Check the dip sticks for the oil and transmission fluid. Both fluids get a milky look when they are mixed with water, the mechanics said. Oil can look like chocolate milk when mixed with water, and the water will be concentrated toward the bottom of the dipstick, Fields said.

He also suggested you have your mechanic look at a vehicle before buying it.

Contact staff writer Lou Wilin at: (419) 427-8413 louwilin@thecourier.com

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Flood losses shocking, painful to victims

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

After being at their home on West-View Drive for 32 years, Peg and Samuel Ellis are packing up and leaving Findlay.

Peg, who is 80, and Samuel, 79, just don't have what it takes to repair their home after the flooding.

"We're just too old to go through this," Peg said.

Her shoulders were slumped forward Friday as she sat in her house that's been turned topsy-turvy by family members trying to clean. She simply looked tired and defeated.

So the two are moving down to Newark to be closer to their daughter.

"We're going to sell (the house) as a fixer-upper," Peg said.

She had just come home from the hospital Tuesday afternoon when the two of them got a knock on their door around 6:30 p.m. It was a firefighter who had come in a boat to evacuate them.

"They were great," Peg said.

That's 180 degrees from Elizabeth Dierksheide's experience at her home on nearby East-View Drive.

She was standing in her garage Tuesday evening watching the water rise when she called to a passing firefighter in a boat for help.

"He said, 'Ma'am, if you're getting out of here, you're walking,'" she said.

She and her husband, David, did eventually manage to hitch a ride from a passing boat because the water was neck deep.

She feels completely abandoned by her community. Not only did the firefighters not help them during the flood, David went down to the Hancock County Job and Family Services office for some financial assistance and was told he didn't qualify because he's on Social Security.

The Dierksheides estimate that they've probably suffered somewhere between $20,000 and $40,000 in damages, and they had no flood insurance.

"See, for the longest time you couldn't get it down here," Elizabeth said. "Then, when they did allow it, we weren't carrying a mortgage, so we didn't get it."

Still, the Dierksheides, who got about eight inches of water in their home, and the Ellises, who got a couple of inches in the house, are lucky compared to Mike and Sheila Brooks.

The Brookses, who live next door to the Dierksheides, had close to three feet of water in their home.

"My Harley is totaled, my Mustang is totaled, and tomorrow I expect them to come out and tell me my house is totaled," Mike said Friday.

At least the Brookses had flood insurance. Unfortunately, he just found out the policy only covers his house — not anything inside it.

Flood insurance policies generally don't cover anything in basements or vehicles.

"I forgot to read the fine print," Mike Brooks said.

He feels dumb, but he shouldn't. He's not alone. The American Red Cross is estimating about 3,000 families in Findlay were affected to some extent by the flooding, and all of them are struggling with their emotions right now.

"Obviously, when you lose everything, and some have ... there's a lot of coping that takes place," said American Red Cross National President Mark Everson, who toured Findlay on Friday.

"That's why we have trained staff that will help them with the immediate stages of what will be (an emotional) journey."

Sheila Brooks is devastated, but she's got a healthy perspective on things.

"Things could be worse, someone (in the family) could be hurt," she said. "Things could be much worse."

Her health isn't great, though. The smell in her home makes her nauseous, and there are other symptoms.

"I don't know if it's stress or what, but every time I come in here, my legs start itching," she said, trying to step around the mud puddles in what was once her kitchen.

In fact, an acrid smell pervades all of the East-View/West-View neighborhood.

The smell, and a lack of gas, has driven the Dierksheides from their home. Every night they leave and stay with family. Then, in the morning, they come back and try to put the pieces of their lives back together.

Most of those pieces, such as furniture and carpets, can be replaced easily enough — provided the money's there. Other things, like all of the family's financial and legal documents that were destroyed despite being locked in a fireproof box, will be harder to replace.

And some things, like pictures and Elizabeth's wedding dress, are just going to take some faith at this point.

Peg Ellis has been so busy with general cleaning she hasn't had time to see if all her genealogical records were destroyed. However, she too is clinging to faith ... hers and others'.

"The prayer groups we have going for us are tremendous," she said, choking back the tears.

Contact staff writer John Graber at:

(419) 427-8417

johngraber@thecourier.com

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Ottawa under curfew, boil advisory

By JIM MAURER

STAFF WRITER

OTTAWA — Parts of Ottawa were under a curfew Friday night and that village as well as several others in Putnam County were under a boil water advisory and water use restrictions as the Blanchard River was still nearly 7 feet over flood stage.

U.S. Coast Guard personnel also were called to Ottawa Friday to assist with emergency rescue efforts, and the county remained under a level 3 road emergency.

The Blanchard River level was 29.87 feet at 5:40 p.m. Friday and was receding slowly. The river had reached a high of 31.71 feet between noon and 2 p.m. Thursday. It was short of the record flood crest of 33.3 feet on March 13, 1913. Flood stage is 23 feet.

Ottawa Mayor Kenneth Maag declared a curfew from 7 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday in the village area from the river east to Pratt Street, and from 11th Street on the north and Williamstown Road on the south. Non-emergency personnel should be off village streets during those hours.

Water restrictions

The drinking water warning was in place for not only residents in Ottawa, but also those in Glandorf, Miller City and the Putnam County Water District until further notice.

All area water users should boil their drinking water. Water should be brought to a boil for a minute and cooled before using.

Although Ottawa officials say that there was no evidence that the water system had become contaminated Friday, officials were concerned that the flooding may have caused organisms which can cause illness in people to enter the water supply.

Mandatory water restrictions were in place for customers of the Ottawa Water System (including Ottawa, Glandorf, Miller City and any other county water customers) to assist in potential firefighting operations, according to a news release from the Putnam County Office of Public Safety. Water use should be restricted to only that of drinking water since there exists a potential future shortage if water restrictions are not put in place now. There are numerous water leaks in the system.

In addition, the saturated ground potentially may have caused joints in the water pipes to separate.

Cleanup efforts

As the water recedes, residents should contact the village to conduct a home inspection before they return to their residence by calling (419) 523-5020.

Items damaged by the flood should be placed at the curb for collection during the recovery phase of the cleanup operation. Additional information for the upcoming recovery/cleanup phase of the operation will be released later.

Putnam County Commissioner John Love, who is serving as information officer for the Putnam County Emergency Management Agency, said access is being denied to areas that still have water.

Putnam County is one of nine counties included in Gov. Ted Strickland's disaster declaration on Wednesday. Those counties also include: Hancock, Allen, Crawford, Hardin, Richland, Seneca, Van Wert and Wyandot.

Red Cross shelters were set up at three locations in the county: Ottawa Senior Center, Scout House in Ottawa Park and Miller City Sportsman Club, which was housing residents of Putnam County's VOCA Home, the county's residential facility for adults with developmental disabilities. The Red Cross can also provide replacement medications to individuals who report to Trinity United Methodist Church.

A public service phone number has been established to report animal rescue locations for pets left at residences and for information about the river's level and road closings. The number is (419) 538-7006.

Additional information is available on the Web at www.pcops.org and www.putnamhealth.com.

If there were animals left behind, call (419) 538-7005 for animal rescue.

Flood aid

Meanwhile, the Putnam County Department of Job and Family Services has disaster services funds available for flood victims. The money may be used for emergency shelter, home repair, moving expenses, insurance deductibles and items to be used in the cleanup. There are income guidelines.

Applications will be available between this Monday and Sept. 22 contingent on available funding. Group information sessions will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church, 137 N. Pratt, Ottawa, beginning Monday at noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m., and on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 9 a.m. and on the hour after 3 p.m. Additional sessions will be scheduled as necessary.

For additional information contact the county department of JFS, 1225 E. Third St., Ottawa, during business hours, 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

All applicants should bring proof of income, proof of loss and Social Security numbers for all household members.

Individuals who want to donate volunteer time should call (419) 523-3288. Individuals who want to donate money or items (no needs list has been prepared yet) should call (419) 538-7315.

Meanwhile, postal deliveries for rural areas of Ottawa were made Friday. Customers from downtown may call for their mail at the Columbus Grove Post Office, 112 N. High St. The phone number is (419) 659-2100. The post office also provides postal retail needs, too.

The alternatives for Ottawa residents will be effective at least through Tuesday. Further information will be provided at that time.

Road closings

The following roadways remained closed as of The Courier's press time late Friday:

STATE, U.S. HIGHWAYS

U.S. 224 from Ohio 694 to Agner Street, Ottawa.

Ohio 115 from Ohio 694 to Road H

Ohio 65 from Road M to North Ottawa

Ohio 114 from U.S. 224 to Ohio 694

Ohio 634 from Ohio 114 to Ohio 613

Ohio 634 from Cloverdale to Dupont

Ohio 15 from Ottawa to Road 15-C

Ohio 694 from Ohio 115 to Road 19

Ohio 115 from U.S. 224 to Road Z

Ohio 634 from Ohio 114 to Dupont

COUNTY ROADS

Road 2 from Road A to Road C

Road 1 from Road I to Road M

Old 224 from Road 1 to Road 7

Road 15 from Road H to Road J

Road J from Road 15 to Glandorf

Road 19 from Glandorf to Ohio 109

Road 8 from Road M to Old 224

Road K from Road 13 to Road 14

Road 13 from Road K to U.S. 224

Road G 12 from Road 13G to Road G 14

Road M 17 from U.S. 224 to Road 20

Road 22K from Road M to Ohio 114

Road I-22 from Ohio 634 to Road 24

Road I-23 from Ohio 634 to Road 25

Road H-24 from Road 24 to Road 25

Road I-18 from Dupont to Road 19

Road 21-H from Road I-18 to Road I-17

Road Q from Road 19 to Road 20

Road 20 from Road O to Road P

Road L from Road 6 to Road 5-L

Road L-2 along the river

Road L-1 along the river

Road K-1 along the river

Road 1-K

Road K-3

Road 7 from U.S. 224 to Old 224

Road M from Road 2 to Road 3

Road 1 from U.S. 224 north

Road I from Road I-14 to Ohio 15 to Ohio 115

Road I-17 from Ohio 115 to Road 19

Road I-17 from Road 18 to Road 19

Road H-13 from Ohio 15 to Ohio 115

Road Q from Road 19 to Road 20

Road C from Road 22 to Road 23

Road 11 from Glandorf to Ohio 15

Road I-9

Road H-11

Road I-22 from Ohio 634 to Road 24

Road I-23 from Ohio 634 to Road 25

Road 21 H from Road I-17 to Road I-18

Cascade Park and surrounding area

Road H-24 from Road 24 to Road 25

Road I-18 from Road 19 to Dupont

Road 22K from Ohio 114 to Road L

Riley Township Roads are all open

Pleasant Township are all open but Road O has some water on it

Road M from Ohio 114 to Road 18

Road M-10 from U.S. 224 to Road 14-L

Road Q has some water but is passable.

All other roads in Sugar Creek Township are open.

Contact Staff Writer Jim Maurer at:

(419) 427-8420

jimmaurer@thecourier.com

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Ottawa flood victims starting to assess damage

By JIM MAURER

Staff Writer

OTTAWA — "I lost everything," Sheryl Okuley, of East Second Street, Ottawa, said Friday afternoon while she was waiting for a ride to work at a local nursing home.

It's a phrase repeated often over the past week. Several other residents had a similar story, but didn't want to give their names.

Okuley, who moved into the rental property just two weeks ago, had four feet of water throughout her residence. The one-story structure is on a cement slab, she said, and doesn't have a crawlspace or basement.

Two teenage children are staying with others, while Sheryl will remain at the shelter.

"I don't know where I'm going to live," she said, "but I know where I'm going to be for now."

That will be at the Red Cross shelter set up at the Ottawa Senior Center in Ottawa Park, adjacent to the Scout House at the park, where about 37 people have slept nightly since the flood hit Tuesday.

Trinity United Methodist Church, across the street from the park, is where all meals are being prepared for about 70 people who have utilized the shelter. That number was down to about 50 people by Friday afternoon, and about 130 workers and volunteers.

"I'm glad my neighbor woke me up," Okuley said about her rescue by a man she only knows as Adam.

She went to bed Tuesday night and was asleep when she heard knocking on her bedroom window. As she woke up, she thought someone was playing a joke. It was 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

But she was told to get a few items together and get her family out of the house because of rising water. By 5:30 a.m. rushing water was moving into the residence. It had risen to about one foot.

She sloshed through the water heading to the shelter location. On the way she suffered numerous bruises and a sprained knee. She left a dog, a rabbit and a pet rat behind. She found a place for her dog and a relative is caring for the other two animals.

Okuley said she returned to the property about 11 a.m. Wednesday and found her dog standing on the top of her couch as the water continued to rise.

By Thursday, water was up to her chest, and a recliner and couch were underwater.

"I've got to get back to work," she said as she headed off Friday afternoon, "the residents need me."

Meanwhile, a Perry Street resident, who also was staying at the shelter, didn't want to talk about the situation, and didn't want to give his name.

"I'm tired and want to take a nap," he said, adding his residence "was in the hardest hit area" of the flooding damage.

Sara Hermiller, Putnam County Red Cross Chapter Director, whose office is under 2 feet of water on East Main Street, said from the church parking lot Friday, donations may be sent to PO Box 470 , Ottawa OH 45875 and designated for American Red Cross with the notation "flood relief." Volunteers will be needed to assist elderly residents with cleanup once that effort begins, she added. They should contact the volunteer coordinator at (419) 538-7006.

Contact Staff Writer Jim Maurer at:

(419) 427-8420

jimmaurer@thecourier.com

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161 stay at shelter Thursday

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

People at the Cube, Hancock County's Red Cross shelter, had thinned out by Friday afternoon, but that didn't mean people weren't going to stay the night.

Most of those staying at the shelter spent the day cleaning out flooded houses. For some, Friday was the first day they could reach their houses.

"Last night we had 161 people," said Red Cross volunteer Ruth Bordner, who is in charge of shelter operations. "I don't know how many will stay tonight."

HATS vans volunteered to pick up shelter residents and take them anywhere they needed to go — either to their homes or to other places — and take them back to the shelter for free, she said.

Many people seized the opportunity and headed out to deal with the mess the flood made — of their homes and their lives.

Although flood victims were upbeat the first two days, many victims' moods darkened by Friday.

"Reality has set in now," Bordner said Friday. "People are saying, 'Where am I going to go — I lost everything!' They're coming down."

The mood was reflected in town as people tried to gut houses they could no longer live in. The smell was, at times, nauseating. A sign on Blanchard Street sat in front of a pile of household debris, crying for help: "Do we have to drown to get aid?"

People began to feel the enormity of what had happened. Back at the shelter, volunteers tried to help.

"You sit, hold them and let them cry," Bordner said. "They need to express that and get it out."

Bordner said that's the part she likes about being in the shelter — she gets to be there to help people, and it's literally a hands-on job.

Few people have witnessed the devastation first-hand like shelter workers, who are working day and night to meet the needs of displaced residents. They feed them, help them deal with what has happened emotionally and give them a place to sleep.

The shelter has been swarming in donations since almost the beginning. Individuals donate clothes, water, food and their time. A different restaurant every day brings in free dinner — they've eaten free meals from Chipotle, the Olive Garden, Max & Ermas, Bob Evans and more.

Water is stacked up by the cases. Bordner said there's a lot, but water is a necessity and it's better to have too much than too little. And that goes for everything — volunteer time, food, clothes, shoes, bedding — because of local donors.

"It is unbelievable," she said.

By Friday afternoon, Red Cross volunteers weren't sure how many people would still be spending the night at the shelter.

Red Cross volunteer Phyllis Davis said that although shelter residents are checking out, new ones are also checking in.

The shelter will stay open as long as there's a need, and no one knows how long that will be yet.

Until then, Bordner said shelter workers will keep working — and hope for sunny skies.

"If I wake up and see lightning, I get nervous," she said. "I'm afraid people will leave and it will hit them again."

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at:

(419) 427-8497

michellereiter@thecourier.com

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Local man sticks by dog even during flood evacuation

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

Mike Phillips and his dog, Sadie, have been inseparable since the 11-year-old dog was 10 days old.

Sadie was the only puppy in her litter that lived, and she was abandoned by her mother. Phillips, 60, fed her formula to keep her alive.

And that's not all.

"She was born on my birthday," Phillips said, holding the leash to the Collie mix who has a limp due to ligament trouble.

Those reasons and more made it hard for Phillips, whose Wilson Street house flooded Wednesday, to part with the dog when he arrived at the Red Cross shelter at the Cube later that same day.

"He arrived here drenched, in his pajamas with his dog," said Bev Phillips, the Hancock County United Way's volunteer service director.

But he couldn't keep the dog at the shelter, where no pets are allowed.

"When they rescued me, I said, 'Can you take your dogs?' and they said yes," Phillips said Thursday.

He brought Sadie in the rescue boat, thinking he could keep her at the shelter with him. When shelter workers told him he couldn't, he wandered around the building, agitated.

"Soon I was surrounded by three mental health workers," Phillips recalled. "There were meaning well, but I thought I'd better watch what I said."

Phillips refused to go inside the shelter without Sadie, and he had nowhere else to go.

"We thought, 'At least we can get him dry,'" said Jeannie Rustic, the Community Solutions Director at the United Way.

He stayed outside with Sadie, but a volunteer brought both he and Sadie something to eat and dry clothes were found for him.

Eventually, a social worker relented, and brought Phillips a shelter cot to sleep on outside the building.

"I slept outside, and Sadie was right here," he said. "I'm one of those crazy dog lovers."

Phillips was only one of hundreds of locals staying at the shelter after floodwaters made their homes unsafe and unlivable. By Thursday night, plenty of people were still in the building, staying all night, eating or taking advantage of the dry clothes available from donors.

By Thursday, Phillips was wearing his new dry clothes and sitting outside by his cot, keeping Sadie cool and well fed, with plenty of water.

He had even started to help out around the shelter, he said. Kids at the shelter took an interest in Sadie, and he chatted with other shelter residents.

Sleeping out under the stars wasn't so bad, said Phillips, who readily describes himself as a minimalist.

He built his Wilson Street home, which he heats with wood.

"A lot of the houses (in my neighborhood) were badly hit," he said. "I lost about 60-70 percent of everything. That's the first punch. The second punch is a lot of cleanup."

Phillips never wanted to be rescued, he said. His sister called the rescue crews for him.

He had spent the night at his mother's nearby house, and when the floodwaters rose he, still in his pajamas, took out his boat, which he said is built from two '48 Hudson hoods welded together — he calls it the "HMS Hood" — and began trying to help people.

He had trouble rowing, and between the boat and wading around outside, he became drenched. Rescue crews picked him up at about 1 p.m. Wednesday, and he took a bus from the YMCA downtown to the Cube.

Phillips stayed at the shelter until Friday morning, and when he left, he didn't go alone. He took Sadie with him, of course.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at:

(419) 427-8497

michellereiter@thecourier.com

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County assessing building damage

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

Downtown county buildings sustained somewhere in the vicinity of $350,000-$550,000 from this week's flood, Hancock County Commissioner Ed Ingold said Friday.

That early estimate does not include damages to the old county home on County Road 140, which had a flooded basement and was still not dry by Friday. The motors for the building's boilers and circuit breakers were damaged.

Hancock County Engineer Steve Wilson said Friday that he would not have an estimate for repairs to the county roads and bridges until next week.

Commissioners plan to spend between $25,000-$40,000 to lease temporary modular units for displaced county employees.

Workers were scattered around the city Friday, trying to resume operations in borrowed office space wherever they can find it, but by next week they should be in the modular units, county officials said. Those units will be stationed in Dorney Plaza and the parking lot at the media building on West Main Cross Street.

That building, which houses the Hancock County Board of Elections, Adult Probation, the Hancock County Board of Health and the Hancock County veterans services offices, sustained some of the worst flood damage in the county, ousting all of its employees.

By next week, the Hancock Board of Elections, the Hancock County Board of Health, CASA and Adult Probation will be housed in the temporary units in the building's parking lot.

Meanwhile, the Hancock County commissioners and the public defenders offices will be stationed in modular units in Dorney Plaza. Ingold said veterans services will be stationed at the Hancock County Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Most of the county's office furniture was salvaged, but not all of it, he said.

Several pieces of furniture in the adult probation department were made of particle board.

"Today they basically disintegrated," Ingold said.

Cleanup

Gutting the office buildings began Thursday, and by Friday soggy carpeting had been ripped from the floors in the commissioners' Main Street offices and the smell of overwhelming mildew began to dissipate.

Flooring and walls need repaired, and the process is likely to time.

Where the money will come from for the repairs is up in the air at the moment. On Thursday commissioners found out that flood insurance doesn't cover the downtown buildings, although it should cover some of the buildings the county is responsible for at the fairgrounds.

Ingold said he hopes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will reimburse the county for repairs, but that could take nine months or more.

County employees have been working extra hours to help get some offices running.

The commissioners held their first post-flood meeting Friday in the Hancock County Courthouse, and they decided to reward employees by absorbing the cost of a health insurance premium that increased this year due to a high number of claims. County officials were going to have county employees pay 5 percent of that increase but decided against it.

Ingold said county officials have "gone the extra mile," and fellow commissioners Emily Walton and Phillip Riegle agreed that the county should absorb the cost as a gesture of gratitude.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at:

(419) 427-8497

michellereiter@thecourier.com

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Dow Chemical lends a helping hand to workers

By LOU WILIN

STAFF WRITER

In times of crisis, the support of family and friends can make all the difference.

Dow Chemical, in Findlay, treated employees hit with flood damage this week like family. Sixteen workers whose homes were filled with floodwaters were given cleaning kits by the company.

The kits delivered to the workers' homes by fellow employees included shop vacs, mops, bleach, masks, gloves, sponges, rags, a pail, extension cords, and equipment to prevent electrocution when using electric appliances in a wet room.

"One of the nice things about working for Dow is if you get in an emergency situation ... they tell you 'Just leave. Don't worry, we'll sort it out when you get back,'" said Richard Kuznicki, one of the affected workers.

Kuznicki is the Findlay site production leader. He has been with the company for 18 years.

Dow is also exploring extending interest-free loans to the employees with flood-damaged homes, Dow public affairs spokeswoman Rosemarie Rung said. The company must comply with federal rules to do so, she said.

Contact staff writer Lou Wilin at:

(419) 427-8413

louwilin@thecourier.com

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Inmates brought back to county jail

Summer "vacation" is over for the 86 inmates who were moved from the Hancock County Justice Center Wednesday due to flooding concerns.

Hancock County Sheriff Mike Heldman said 42 felony prisoners sent to the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio (CCNO) and the 44 misdemeanor offenders taken to the local Rehabilitation and Opportunity Center were brought back to the downtown jail Friday morning.

"Their little break is over," the sheriff said.

Corrections supervisors had made arrangements to empty out the jail Wednesday based on health and safety concerns for the inmates after the justice center, located at Crawford and North Cory street, became surrounded by floodwater.

Heldman said he made the move as a precautionary measure, not knowing then if the flooding conditions would worsen and impact city water supplies. The jail uses city water.

"I don't regret doing it," he said Friday. "We really didn't know then how bad it would get."

The inmates were transported to CCNO in Stryker and to the ROC on County Road 140 after being loaded into buses Wednesday afternoon on Lima Street. They had been moved from the jail in a military transport vehicle which was able to clear the high water.

The prisoner evacuation marked the first time the jail had been empty since it opened 18 years ago.

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Library closing may be longer than expected

It's likely the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library will be closed longer than originally expected, according to Sybil Galer, library director.

About three feet of water still had to be pumped out of the facility as of Friday morning. The basement is a total loss, but the condition of mechanical equipment (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) still hasn't been evaluated, she added.

"It's going to be a pretty lengthy process (until the library will be ready for reopening)," she said.

About six feet of water filled the lower level of the structure this week, leaving the entire area — including the Book Cellar used book area operated by Friends of the Library — with extensive damage.

Also, Galer said she doesn't think the Arlington branch library suffered any damage, but it remains closed, too.

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Flood-related briefs

Decision coming on when Marathon will reopen

Marathon Oil Co. employees were off again Friday while cleanup and remediation continued in the basement of the building at 539 S. Main St.

The basement had 7 feet of water in it earlier this week, Marathon spokeswoman Linda Casey said.

The water has been pumped out and remediation contractors have been checking electric service and other functions.

Casey said a decision will be made on Sunday about whether employees will return to work on Monday.



GFI temporarily relocates offices

GreaterFindlayInc. (GFI), formerly the Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, has temporarily relocated to the second floor of its 123 E. Main Cross St. building.

Repairs are being make to the downstairs offices due to flood damage.

GFI can continue to be reached at 419-422-3313 or at info@greaterfindlayinc.com, although faxes cannot currently be sent or received.



Two local banks taking donations

Those interested in helping people affected by flood damage can make cash or check donations at either of two local banks.

All Fifth Third Bank centers in Northwest Ohio are accepting donations to the United Way of Hancock County Flood Relief Fund.

Fifth Third Bank has made a pledge of $10,000 to start the fund.

KeyBank and the American Red Cross have established the American Red Cross — Ohio Relief Fund to help those affected by floodwaters in Findlay, Defiance and Mansfield.

Cash and check donations are being accepted at all local KeyBank branches. For tax deduction purposes, Key recommends making contributions by check to the Red Cross.



Carey postpones annual golf event

CAREY — Due to the many people and businesses affected by the recent floods, the 9th Annual Carey Area Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing has been rescheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29 at Bob's Countryside Golf Course, Carey. The outing had been scheduled for today.

If unavailable to participate previously, but available on Sept. 29, contact the chamber office at 419-396-7856 to be placed on a team or for sponsorship.



Open Arms shelter cancels services until further notice

Open Arms Domestic Violence Shelter has canceled all services until further notice.

The agency suffered more than $10,000 in damage — including phone service equipment — in the flooding.



CHOPIN plans food distribution

CHOPIN Hall will organize a food distribution today at Cummins Filtration, 2501 Industrial Drive in the Tall Timbers area, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Volunteers are still needed for this event. Anyone who would like to volunteer is asked to come to the Cummins Filtration location at 7:30 a.m. today.



Church to provide free food, water

In addition to free drinking water, First Assembly of God will also provide free food today.

From noon to 4 p.m., the church, located at 124 Ash Ave., will be distributing 5,000 gallons of bottled water free to Hancock County residents in need of clean drinking water.

The water is being provided by Operation Outreach and World Harvest Church. Food will be brought in from the Bedford Assembly of God in Toledo.

Those seeking food and water at First Assembly of God today are asked to pull into the church from Prospect Street.



Liberty Township garbage pickup scheduled for Monday

The Liberty Township Trustees will arrange to pick up flood-damaged materials in Liberty Township areas outside Findlay corporation limits, beginning Monday morning.

All damaged materials should be placed curb- or roadside to be easily accessible for pick-up crews. For information, call the township office at 419-422-1330.



Insurance dept. extends phone service hours

The Ohio Department of Insurance will extend its consumer hotline services this weekend to assist those who suffered property damage from this week's flooding.

Ohioans can speak with a trained representative today and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. by calling 1-800-686-1526.

For additional information and tips, including a link to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), visit the department's Web site at www.ohioinsurance.gov.



McComb Middle School orientation rescheduled

McComb Middle School has rescheduled orientation for 3-7 p.m. Monday in the middle school gymnasium.

Pictures and class meetings will be rescheduled for a later date. McComb ninth-grade orientation has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 28 in the high school cafeteria.



Wing-Off benefit scheduled to go on

Cancer Patient Services' annual Wing-Off will take place as scheduled from 5-8 p.m. today at Buffalo Wild Wings, 15080 Flag City Drive.

Advance sale tickets are $10 and are available at the Cancer Patient Services office at the Family Center, 1800 N. Blanchard St., Suite 120. Tickets will be $15 at the door.



Free meal offered at Olive Garden

The Olive Garden in Findlay will be offering a complimentary meal today for area residents whose lives have been affected by this week's flooding.

Meals will be offered from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today at the restaurant, which is located at 15115 U.S. 224 East.

The meal will consist of pasta with marinara, salad and breadsticks, which will be served with the cooperation of local vendors, Nickels Bakery and Sirna & Sons.



AEP conducting aerial patrols

American Electric Power Ohio will conduct helicopter aerial patrols of its high-voltage lines in Northwest Ohio from Sunday to Sept. 1.

Patrols will take place in Findlay, Fremont, Lima, Tiffin and Van Wert areas.

During patrols, helicopters will fly at 5-10 mph, hovering over each structure location and then inspecting an entire line. A helicopter may follow a line continuously from one area into another, such as a long line connecting Lima to Ottawa.

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Community prayer service slated Sunday

By MARGARET DWIGGINS

Family editor

An ecumenical prayer service for the community and those who were affected by the flooding is planned Aug. 26 at 2 p.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, 750 Bright Road.

The service, however, is only the beginning of a community effort, known as "Calming the Waters," which is being formed to address the needs of flood victims.

Although the service is being hosted by St. Michael Parish, several area congregations have participated in its planning, and the service is open to all.

Sunday's service will include scripture readings and testimonials by workers who assisted during the flood.

Prayers will also be offered for rescue service workers, children, schools, the elderly, family and friends and people in all parts of the world who have suffered loss.

The Rev. Mike Hohenbrink, pastor of St. Michael Parish, said it is anticipated that the service will last under one hour.

"We're calling this a scripture prayer service, but the emphasis here is thanking God for the blessings and for the fact that we've had very few injuries, amid asking for strength and courage to meet the challenges of the future," Hohenbrink said.

Hohenbrink and several other area clergy and laypeople met Friday to finalize plans for the service and to lay the groundwork for the Calming the Waters project. All involved know that efforts to recover from the flood will take months.

Those involved on the ground floor of the Calming the Waters effort hope to gain participation from other churches and social service agencies to ultimately provide anyone affected by the flood with spiritual care, assistance in obtaining help from city, county or social service agencies and organizations that can help with rebuilding.

"We're really trying to come together as a group with the various ministry communities," Hohenbrink said.

A meeting will be held Aug. 28 at 11 a.m. at St. Marks United Methodist Church, 800 S. Main St., for anyone interested in being involved with the Calming the Waters project.

"One person or congregation can't do it all, but if we all work together ... we will get more done by doing a group effort," Hohenbrink said.

"My experience with Findlay is, when Findlay has a project, people come out and make something happen. Once we all come together as a community this flood will seem like a small thing. We have a lot of resources, a lot of willing people, a lot of generous hearts in this town. We're going to find, I think, some experience of how to do things in the future."

Contact family editor Margaret Dwiggins:

(419) 427-8477

margaretdwiggins@thecourier.com

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United Way awards funds to Red Cross

The United Way of Hancock County has awarded an additional $5,000 to the local chapter of the American Red Cross to assist with unexpected expenses of managing the recent flood disaster. The funds are being distributed out of the United Way's emergency reserve fund and do not come from campaign funds.

Additionally, United Way of Hancock County, with the help of Fifth Third Bank, has established a Flood Relief Fund. Contributions in any amount may be made at any of Fifth Third Banking Center in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. All funds received will be used for short- and long-term needs of those affected by the flood. Fifth Third Bank (Northwestern Ohio) has made a pledge of $10,000 to start the fund.

The United Way's Volunteer Center is currently in the process of identifying, cataloguing and coordinating volunteers who want to help out. Bev Phillips, United Way Volunteer Services Director, said, "we fully recognize that the clean-up process of the aftermath of this flood will go on for months. We want to best utilize the expertise and abilities of volunteers in our community. Flood clean up kits are available through the Red Cross, however the Red Cross does not have the capacity to go into homes and clean. Local volunteers have already started calling in with offers to help clean up. We are in the planning stages to address the future clean up efforts. Individuals or groups interested in assisting with the long term clean up effort should call United Way's Volunteer Center so that we can take your information."

The United Way is also encouraging the public to assist with cleaning supply needs. Cleaning supplies that are needed include: buckets, mops, brooms, rubber or latex gloves, sponges, scrubbing brushes, bleach and protective masks. Individuals who wish to make a donation of cleaning supplies can take them to the Cube, 3430 N. Main St. Companies or corporations who want to make large scale donations of cleaning supplies or equipment should first contact the United Way office so that United Way staff can coordinate the time of drop off. Warehouse space has been donated by both Tall Timbers Distribution Center and Hurricane Express to house the equipment and supplies. For more information, contact the United Way at (419) 423-1432,or visit uwhancock.org.

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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

Glass doors were reported shattered, a door lock was pried open and $50 in coins were stolen from China Rose, 2431 S. Main St., on Wednesday.

A Glen Haven Drive woman requested a charge of public indecency against a neighbor after she reported that her children had seen the man nude through his living room window.

A Broad Avenue man was arrested for domestic violence on Wednesday after shutting his pregnant girlfriend’s ankle in a door, grabbing her face and cutting her mouth.

A windshield on a Ford vehicle was reported broken on Thursday at 445 Carnahan Ave.

Officers were summoned to 803 Tiffin Ave. on Thursday on a report that a man had fallen off a bicycle. When they arrived, the man, who had been lying in the street, told officers he was “resting.” A background check revealed there was a warrant for the man’s arrest and he was taken into custody.

A man was cited for theft at Meijer, 2200 Tiffin Ave., after he was caught trying to steal diet pills by hiding them inside a bulk grocery bag of dog food.

A canoe was reported stolen from 200 N. Cory St. on Thursday.

A 19-year-old male was cited for underage possession of alcohol, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license when police pulled over his vehicle. When officers searched the car, they found two cases of beer, a drug pipe and a baggie containing marijuana. A juvenile male passenger in the vehicle was cited for possession of marijuana.

A male was cited for underage consumption after police found him lying on the ground in the 100 block of South Street on Friday. The male was bleeding and told police he had gotten into a fight in a car while driving home from Wooley Bulley’s.

Two juveniles, a male and female, were cited for curfew violations after police found them in a car in the parking lot of Speedway, 1415 S. Main St., at 3:25 a.m. Friday. The male was also cited for underage possession of alcohol after four bottles of Smirnoff Ice were found in the vehicle.

An employee at Accurate Cab, 346 N. Main St., reported that $135 was stolen from the building.

A 15-year-old female was arrested for underage consumption after officers found her staggering in the 600 block of Sixth Street on Friday. At the police station, her blood alcohol was determined to be .196.

Sheriff’s Office

An employee at Pilot Travel Center, 11471 Ohio 613, reported that a green van drove away without paying for $57.01 worth of gasoline on Monday.

Courthouse

Marriage Licenses

Timothy A. Brown, 8220 Silverwood Drive, customer service, to Kenna R. Rodabaugh, 8220 Silverwood Drive, cashier.

Jeffrey J. Wilcox, 1701 Washington Ave., supervisor, to Sandra L. Churchill, 1701 Washington Ave., hairstylist.

Rodney E. Bly, 1801 Lippincott Ave., engineer, to Amy J. Moulton, 1801 Lippincott Ave., banker.

Edward L. Leeper Jr., Van Buren, laborer, to Diane J. Leeper, Van Buren, domestic engineer.

Mathew A. Thiel, 526 Fourth St., construction, to Chasity L. Brown, 526 Fourth St., construction.

Clifford N. Manini, 517 Midland Ave., student, to Denise M. Hassan, 720 S. Cory St., nursing assistant.

Divorces, Dissolutions

Brenda L. Rall from Martin J. Rall, divorce.

Beth A. Baird from William H. Baird, divorce.

William H. Baird from Beth A. Baird, divorce.

Cori A. Brooks and Andrew K. Brooks, dissolution.

Real Estate Transfers

North Forty, David G., Norbert and Helen J. Kinn to David G. Kinn, Section 12, 48.892 acres, Biglick Township.

Jimmy L. and Georgia J. Salisbury to Craig D. and Lori J. Neff, Section 13, .557 acre, Union Township.

Maurice E. Boutwell to Marcia J. Gallant and Barbara J. Boutwell, Lots 81-84, Benders Addition, Mount Cory.

Mildred Hughes to Ruth Bowers, Section 30, 61.75 acres, and Section 30, 98 acres, Madison Township.

Jane C. Penny to Robert E. and Jane C. Penny and Penny Family Trust, Section 19, 23.81 acres, Section 19, 20 acres, and Section 19, 90.895 acres, Liberty Township.

D. Dean and Lorelei Ann Suter to Dean and Lori Rentals, Lot 37, Northern Heights Addition, Findlay; Lots 1820-1821, Gray & Patterson 3rd Addition, Findlay; and Lot 1822, Gray & Patterson 3rd Addition, Findlay.

D. Dean Suter to Dean and Lori Rentals and Lori A. Suter, Lot 4, Camerons Railroad Addition, Arlington.

Michael T. and Annette S. Shaffer to Carl E. White Jr. and Beatrice A. Eaton, Section 6, 2.49 acres, and Section 6, 2.511 acres, Van Buren Township.

W. Wayne, Alan L., Barbara and Toby Ann Coder to Scott J. Ball, Unit 14, Park Lane Condo, Findlay.

Ronald L. and Martha E. Dills to Lee Ann Lopez, Section 22, 1 acre, Cass Township.

Roger and Nancy Best to Jacqueline M. Snyder, Lot 58, Winter Woods Estates Replat, Findlay.

Beverly L. and Corvin E. Birchfield to Linda L. Click, Lot 13, Tebbs Subdivision, Findlay.

Dennis L. and Jean K. Quick to Linda L. Click, Lot 13, Tebbs Subdivision, Findlay.

Jacqueline M. Snyder to Best Construction Co., Section 17, .322 acre, Marion Township.

Fire Calls

Tuesday

12:54 a.m., 1122 Glen Road, arcing, shorted electrical equipment.

3:34 a.m., 1800 Tiffin Ave., alarm system malfunction.

4:04 a.m., 910 Woodworth Drive, water evacuation.

4:40 a.m., 1996 Tiffin Ave., water evacuation.

5:24 a.m., 1912 Southshore Drive, water evacuation.

5:35 a.m., 244 Ely Ave., water evacuation.

5:53 a.m., 900 Woodworth Drive, water evacuation.

6:13 a.m., 8884 County Road 236, water evacuation.

6:25 a.m., 307 E. Bigelow Ave., water evacuation.

6:38 a.m., 2720 France St., water evacuation.

7:15 a.m., 750 Bright Road, hazardous material release investigation.

7:16 a.m., 2200 Tiffin Ave., service call.

7:21 a.m., 1000 Dalores Drive, gas leak.

8:06 a.m., 328 Rector Ave., flood assessment.

8:08 a.m., 1300 Glendale Ave., hazardous material release investigation.

8:50 a.m., 100 E. Foulke Ave., flood assessment.

11:52 a.m., Mount Blanchard, water evacuation.

12:17 p.m., 621 W. Front St., carbon monoxide incident.

3:36 p.m., 2600 N. Main St., outside waste fire.

4:09 p.m., 1920 Windsor Place, hazardous material release investigation.

5:51 p.m., 149 Madison Ave., medical assist.

9:37 p.m., 124 W. High St., water problem.

10:24 p.m., 204 Clinton St., water evacuation.

10:43 p.m., 925 Fishlock Ave., EMS call.

10:48 p.m., 806 Bright Road, EMS call.

Wednesday

12:44 a.m., 654 Hemphill Blvd., flood assessment.

2:14 a.m., 222 Center St., gas leak.

4:52 a.m., 522 Center St., service call.

7:09 a.m., 1700 E. Main Cross St., flammable liquid spill.

7:42 a.m., 613 N. Main St., water problem.

1:01 p.m., 719 Tiffin Ave., wind storm, tornado/hurricane assessment.

3:48 p.m., 2901 Greenacre Drive, EMS call.

4:06 p.m., 336 Center St., water problem.

8:58 p.m., 2110 Park St., EMS call.

9:25 p.m., 604 Center St., smoke scare.

11:37 p.m., 646 Hemphill Blvd., carbon monoxide incident.

Thursday

2:14 a.m., 212 Clifton Ave., EMS call.

4:34 a.m., 623 Cherry St., service call.

7:24 a.m., 1115 Concord Court, EMS call.

7:44 a.m., 471 E. Main Cross St., water evacuation.

8:44 a.m., 912 Fox St., water problem.

10:19 a.m., 220 Durrell St., EMS call.

12:44 p.m., 330 Defiance Ave., building fire.

1:32 p.m., 1600 West-View Drive, good intent call.

2:19 p.m., 214 Santee Ave., alarm system malfunction.

3:37 p.m., 400 W. Trenton Ave., vehicle accident.

4 p.m., 419 Center St., chemical spill or leak.

5:08 p.m., 337 S. Main St., system malfunction.

7:44 p.m., 900 Washington St., gas leak.

11:56 p.m., 529 Cross Ave., flammable liquid spill.

Friday

4:30 a.m., 1600 Fox St., rescue call.

9:09 a.m., 509 N. Main St., EMS call.

9:42 a.m., 318 Dorney Plaza, unintentional detector activation.

11:59 a.m., 2500 Tiffin Ave., EMS call.

2:09 p.m., 1651 West-View Drive, service call.

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Findlay woman hurt in accident

A Findlay woman sustained injuries after a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of West Trenton Avenue and Bolton Street on Friday evening, according to the Hancock County Sheriff's Office.

Helen Scott, 48, was traveling westbound on West Trenton Avenue when Casey Prenzlin, 21, of Findlay, failed to yield at a stop sign at the intersection of West Trenton and Bolton Street and pulled out in front of Scott, causing her Ford Taurus to smash into his Mercury Grand Marquis at about 7:01 p.m.

The impact of the crash sent both vehicles into the Pizza Hut parking lot, where Prenzlin's car struck an unattended vehicle parked in the lot.

Scott's passenger, Debbie Flugga, 46, of Findlay, was transported to Blanchard Valley Hospital for injuries. A hospital official reported that Flugga was released Friday night.

No other injuries were reported in relation to the crash.

Prenzlin was cited for failure to yield at a stop sign.

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