Thousands in Findlay forced to evacuate after massive floods

Tim Sampson and Tim Sampson

Although it was a mostly sunny day in Bowling Green, about a half hour down Interstate 75, thousands had to be evacuated yesterday and Tuesday to escape some of the worst flooding in nearly a century.

In Findlay, about 25 miles south of Bowling Green, an estimated 2,200 to 2,500 people have evacuated their homes to avoid the rising waters of the Blanchard River, which runs directly through the city of almost 40,000 citizens.

Approximately 500 people have been evacuated by boat, but so far no serious injuries or deaths have been reported, Hancock County Commissioner Phillip Riegle said.

Flood waters from the Blanchard River crested yesterday afternoon at 19.1 feet – 8.1 feet above the official flood level, Riegle said.

He said the flood broke the previous record set in 1913.

‘This area is prone to flooding, but I’ve never seen it this bad,’ Riegle said.

The hardest-hit area in the region is the downtown area, where Lye and Eagle creeks meet the Blanchard River.

Findlay City Schools, as well as many local businesses, were closed yesterday as a result of the flooding and will likely remain closed today, Riegle said.

The flood extends to areas beyond Findlay.

Arlington, Ohio, also located in Hancock County, has seen evacuations as a result of rising water.

‘Arlington doesn’t really have a history of flooding, but a huge area has been affected,’ Riegle said.

Six bridges across the county, including two in Findlay, have been damaged by the flood, he said.

A Level 3 emergency was declared in the county, meaning all non-emergency vehicles were asked to remain off the roads.

But authorities have had a problem getting citizens to obey the emergency status.

Riegle said ‘sightseers’ have been driving through the downtown area to catch a glimpse of the damage, making the jobs of emergency management officials more difficult.

Authorities have had to close down so many roads that there are not enough ‘road closed’ signs to go around.

Dana Hauenstien, a Findlay resident, said officials closed off her partially flooded street but were not able to put up signs. Cars continued to make the treacherous drive through the standing water in front of her home.

But city and county officials are optimistic the waters will recede later in the week.

‘We’ve got a lot of people pitching in from all over the area,’ said Findlay Fire Department Battalion Chief Matt Traver. ‘Hopefully we’ll be able to get this cleaned up as soon as possible.’

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