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April 18, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Floods shut down portion of I-75

CAREY, Ohio -Dozens of roads were closed, emergency workers rescued residents from homes and school districts canceled classes yesterday as several inches of rain flooded roads and sent riverbanks surging throughout northern Ohio.

Tim Pontius of Toledo was searching for side roads yesterday afternoon after he ran into a road closure on northbound state Route 15 south of Findlay.

“They’re being a little bit vague about rerouting people,” said Pontius, who was heading home from Columbus. “This is really a mess.”

In northwest Ohio near Bluffton, both directions of I-75, one of the nation’s main north-south thoroughfares, were closed from early yesterday morning until about 6 p.m., said Scott Varner of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Inspectors reopened the 7-mile stretch of the highway after removing debris and looking for road and bridge damage, he said.

As of 6:30 p.m., there were 30 road closures and 11 restricted roadways, mostly in northern parts of the state, according to ODOT. Counties with significant flood-related closures included Allen, Crawford, Hancock, Richland, Sandusky and Wyandot, and some areas had restricted road travel to emergency vehicles only.

In the village of Carey, waist-deep water swirled through the tiny downtown, submerging cars to their rooftops. Dozens of flooded streets made it impossible to cross the town. A truck driver heading to Michigan with an oversized load didn’t know which way to go because several of the major routes in the area were shut down.

“There’s nowhere to send the traffic,” Police Capt. Daniel Walter said.

The Carey Nursing ‘ Rehabilitation Center was evacuated Tuesday morning, said Wyandot County Lt. Neil Riedlinger. An aide answering the phone at the home said 28 residents were being transferred to Wyandot Memorial Hospital.

At the end of a long block of flooded homes near downtown, Mike Watkins used a generator in an attempt to pump 4 feet of water out of his mother’s basement, clearly a losing battle. In front of his house, kids rode bikes through the knee-deep water and residents took pictures of their water-logged neighborhood as more water poured in from the overflowing Spring Run Creek at the center of the village.

“At least the kids are having fun,” Watkins said, who added that he had never seen flooding reach his block in his 52 years.

The sheriff’s office urged motorists to stay out of the area because of extensive flooding, and, throughout the county, authorities were busy rescuing motorists whose vehicles had become submerged and residents who had water coming into their homes.

Wyandot County Sheriff Mike Hetzel said as the flood water recedes it will fill up flood basins, causing further problems. The Wyandot County chapter of the American Red Cross opened a shelter for evacuees and a local football team was going door to door to see if anyone was stranded, he said.

“This is the worst I’ve seen in 30 years,” Hetzel said.

Throughout the north-central region, corn and soybean crops – which were in danger of dying out to drought conditions a few weeks ago – faced the new risk of damage due to flooding.

The Upper Sandusky school district in north-central Ohio canceled the first day of school after more than 9 inches of rain surged over river banks, and nearby Mohawk schools, which started the school year Monday, also canceled classes.

To the east in Bucyrus, nearly nine inches of rain fell, and firefighters used a boat to rescue families from flooded homes. The Crawford County Emergency Management Agency estimated that about 80 people were evacuated and up to 200 more are expected to leave the area as the flood water approaches the overflowing river in town, Tim Flock, director of the agency, said yesterday morning.

In Shelby, the Black Fork River overflowed, closing roads and flooding homes and businesses. Police evacuated two roads nearest the river, which runs directly through the center of town, according to dispatcher Renee Seibolt.

Flooding shut down post office and stopped mail delivery for yesterday in Mansfield, about 60 miles north of Columbus, spokesman David Van Allen told the Mansfield. About 30 postal vehicles were under water but no mail was lost or destroyed, he said.

The Barberton Corps of The Salvation Army was sending emergency disaster vehicles and personnel to deliver food and bottled water to residents of the city in suburban Akron. The group planned to provide clean up supplies on Wednesday.


Associated Press Writers Doug Whiteman and Emily Zeugner in Columbus contributed to this report.

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