Water Still Rising in Findlay

Findlay flooding. See It, Snap It, Send It photo from Leroy Rupright.
Findlay flooding. See It, Snap It, Send It photo from Leroy Rupright.
Water rescue operates in Findlay. See It, Snap It, Send It photo courtesy: Bill Crusa.
Water rescue operates in Findlay. See It, Snap It, Send It photo courtesy: Bill Crusa.
Some streets are flooded parking lots.
Some streets are flooded parking lots.
Neighborhoods are more like lakes.
Neighborhoods are more like lakes.

FINDLAY -- The water is still rising in Findlay.  The Blanchard River rose several more inches overnight, and is not expected to crest until sometime Wednesday morning.  Findlay Mayor Tony Iriti has declared a state of emergency for his city.

A storm system dropped as much as 9 inches of rain on northwest Ohio on Monday.  By Tuesday morning, water started inching up in counties south of Toledo.  Hancock County was one of the hardest-hit, with widespread flooding in Findlay and other cities to the south.

The National Weather Service predicts the river will crest sometime Wednesday at 18.50 feet, which shatter the old record.  Thirteen feet is considered "major flood stage."

Emergency crews worked all night, and into the morning, saving people from the rising water.  "We got evacuated at 4:00am this morning," said Barb Koontz.  "Our basement collapsed this morning, so the flood waters were coming in and we didn't have any choice but to escape."

Koontz is one of hundreds of people who have gone to Red Cross shelters set up in the city.  "We've had a city full of people coming in all morning, and it's going to continue all afternoon, I'm sure, into the evening," said Judy Cantwell, from the Hancock County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Video from Findlay's main downtown area on Wednesday morning shows widespread flooding.  Police say there's as much as 5 feet of water covering most streets in downtown for the three blocks either side of the Blanchard River.  We're told there are no river crossings available in Findlay.  The only way to get across the river is by Interstate 75.

Findlay's state of emergency means the only emergency vehicles should be on the road, and other people out driving on the flooded roads could be ticketed.

Eighteen boat crews from fire departments around northwest Ohio are in Findlay to help with the massive rescue effort.  "We're having a great response from all the departments," said Deputy Chief Tom Jorgensen from the Findlay Fire Department.  "Some of them are even having trouble of their own, but they're still sending help.  Everybody's cooperating great."

Some people are sandbagging, trying to keep the water out of their homes and businesses.  "You can't do nothing with Mother Nature," said Michael Evanoff, a business owner.  "I said, 'Open the door, and let it run through,' and hope it doesn't do a lot of damage."

Flood waters have filled Evanoff's shop three times in the past year.  "We just start putting up.  We make sure everything's about waist-high, and hope it doesn't get any deeper than that."

The Conine family is trying to pump the water out of their Findlay home.  It was scary for Bill Conine because at one point, the water from a nearby pond was rushing from basement windows, and filling up the home.

With furniture floating, the family grabbed everything they could, and tried to start bailing with buckets.  It was a losing battle.  "You reach a point where you feel absolutely helpless because the water is coming in so fast that it's overwhelming," said Bill Conine.  "By the time the water was basically up to my neck, we said, 'That's enough, it's time to get out.'"

Count on News 11 to follow this story as it develops.

Posted by AEB