Somber memories, 1 year after the Findlay flood

From WTOL media partner The Courier:


June Wilcox held flowers in one hand and a stone in the other.

The flowers were a symbol of recovery and the stone was a symbol of pain some flood victims are still dealing with a year after the Blanchard River poured into Findlay homes and businesses.

Wilcox said her feelings were more connected to the stone.

She lives on East-View Drive and said she is $40,000 in debt after the flood.

"At 67 years old you want to be out of debt and have something to look forward to," she said.

Volunteers handed out the flowers and stones Wednesday night during "Come to the River: Remembering, Rebuilding, Rejoicing." The two-night program is being held at Riverside Park to commemorate the anniversary of the August flood.

About a hundred people came to the river to hear the Findlay Civic Band, tell their stories and pray.

The theme was encouragement but the event was mostly somber.

John E. Newman got a smattering of applause after taking the microphone to criticize the flood reduction efforts.

"We have studied this river problem for 95 years," he said. "What has been done? Practically nothing."

Wilcox said she agreed, and also criticized the city government for its response after the flood.

"The only help we got was volunteers from the churches and people from out of town," she said.

Attendees were encouraged to throw their flowers or stones into the Blanchard River to express their feelings toward the flood. But most took their mementos home.

Wilcox held on to her stone.

"I don't want to clutter it up," she said of the riverbed. "It's got enough stuff in there."

Tracy Schumann said he was more optimistic about the progress that has been made in the past year.

Schumann is a music minister at Parkview Christian Church. He played bass trombone with the Civic Band and arranged a piece of music to commemorate the flood.

He rearranged "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Carousel."

"It's about a storm and it's about being courageous through it," he said.

He said he arranged the piece to fulfill a personal goal, but it seemed appropriate for the event.

"It just came to my mind and it just seemed like the natural choice," he said.

After the event, Joseph and Shirley Fabry stood with flowers in their hands.

The basement of their house in the Hunter's Creek subdivision filled with eight feet of water last August.

They said they are 95 percent recovered, but are still dealing with the emotional turmoil caused by the flood.

"I don't think we will ever put it behind us," Shirley said. "It will always be a memory."

"It has been the focus of time and expenses," Joseph said. He recovered from the emotional effects by focusing on what needed to be done in the house, he said.

"I dealt with it by working and I would say to my honey, 'How are you doing?'" he said.

A second anniversary program will be held at the park tonight, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Music will be presented by area praise and worship bands. There will also be stories from the community and a time of prayer and healing.

A 24-hour prayer vigil is also being held until tonight at Springs of Life Christian Bookstore and Cafe, 104 S. Main St.