News 11 Team Out Gauging Flood's Effects

NEWS 11's VIEWING AREA -- We'll start with this: Severe weather is headed our way, but will likely not hit Hancock, Putnam and other southern counties.

But it will likely hit southern Michigan and Ohio's western counties.

Right now, water is coming down in sheets in South Bend, reports News 11's Meteorologist Robert Shiels. Wind gusts of 70mph were reported in Illinois. We can expect the weather to hit around 6 p.m. or so in the western counties, and around 7 p.m. or so in the Toledo area. It will be very windy, and move quickly through the area.

Too bad for us -- the mugginess we're sweating through is likely to stick around -- literally, folks -- until Saturday.

Findlay residents, you should know there will be a major garbage pick-up on Friday, August 24. NOTE: ONLY FLOOD-RELATED TRASH WILL BE PICKED UP. You are asked to place trash at the curbside, keeping regular trash and flood damaged electronics separate. Sand bags may be placed at curbside for pick-up. Crews will not go onto private property to retrieve trash.

Parts of our viewing area are still devastated by flood waters of the past several days. Findlay, though, is doing much better, reports News 11's Brad Harvey. There's very little water left in downtown, much better, in fact, than it was at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff was in Findlay on Thursday. "I was very impressed by the spirit of the people. I didn't see much of a stream. I saw a lake," he said.

Gov. Strickland told News 11 people can expect help from the State. He said that could come very quickly. And businesses might be able to get small business loans as well, he told Brad Harvey.

His attention is focused on NW Ohio, he said. He appeared on CBS' The Early Show. "I am committed... to help these folks get what they need in terms of safety. We'll do everything we can to help people get back on their feet."

News 11's Colleen Wells talked with business owners who went around to find out what damage had been done to their shops. Domino's Pizza has to get rid of thousands of dollars of items. Water is pumped out, but owners say they're lucky. Brian Edler said, "We dodged a bullet," commenting on neighbors and others who suffered far worse than did his business.

Some folks expect clean-up to take weeks, possibly even months.

Folks along the Maumee River are keeping an eye on the water level. Kim Dowell, of Grand Rapids, said, "It's pretty scary."

More than 200 residents are still at The Cube, a shelter in Findlay, reports News 11's Mika Highsmith. There is no need for supplies, but there is a need for money, she reports.

In Ottawa and Putnam counties, News 11's Rob Wiercinski talked with residents. Streets are now streams, the Blanchard River crested, and some were forced out of their homes.

"We don't have no idea," said Angie Orlando, when asked if she knew when she could return to her home in Ottawa County.

Pastor Dan Huther said his neighbors helped to save his church. "I didn't ask them to. They just did it," he said, clearly touched.

News 11's Tanieya Lewis talked with representatives of TMACOG today, and they said the flood water is dangerous and thus, a health risk. That happens because plants designed to filter the water are just incapable of keeping up -- especially if they're older.

"It's giong to take a lot of money to fix it," said Kurt Erichson about updating older plants.

News 11's Tim Miller is in Ottawa and reports that progress is slow. Many businesses are still under water. The fire chief says about 70 percent of Ottawa is still under water. There are still active rescues going on.

Ottawa Fire Chief Ronald Brinkman said front end loaders were used to rescue people. "You use what you got," he said.

In Putnam County, driving conditions are still hazardous. John Love, Putnam County Commission, said, "The west side of Ottawa seems to be the hardest hit."

Posted by KO