Friday, June 08, 2001

After the flood, the cleanup

Downpours soak apartment buildings, displacing families

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        With her parents' Springdale apartment waterlogged and most everything they owned lost, Maria Esparza on Thursday wished Mother Nature would turn off the spigot.

        The apartment in Hunter's Glen was hit hard by flooding during an intense downpour Wednesday afternoon that sent water rushing through intersections, snarling traffic in many parts of the Tristate.

[photo] In the mud-covered kitchen of her parents' Springdale apartment, Maria Esparza talks to the Red Cross looking for help.
(Glenn Hartong photos)
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        “The water was all the way up to our knees,” Ms. Esparza said. “They lost everything. My mom and dad are in shock.”

        On Thursday, the carpet was soaked, bags of wet clothes were being dragged outside, and wet mud coated the kitchen floor.

        Her parents, who don't speak English, have lived in the apartment with several of their children for 18 months. Ms. Esparza lives in Norwood, but was at her parents' home to help with the salvage effort.

        The American Red Cross is helping with food and shelter. The family, which doesn't have renter's insurance, is also moving to another unit in the complex - something they had been planning to do anyway.

        “We're lucky they're OK. That's the most important part,” Ms. Esparza said.

[photo] Carpet technician Van Gillespie of Premium Carpet Care vacuums water from an apartment at Royal Oaks in Fairfield.
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        In Fairfield, Cristal Mays' frustration grew amid the saturated belongings in her apartment.

        “I was (angry) because my carpet was soaked,” she said. “To come home to this made me upset.”

        She didn't know how badly damaged her furniture was.

        Hers was one of a dozen apartments in the Royal Oaks Community off Boymel Drive left uninhabitable by Wednesday's storms.

        Residents say a storm drain overflowed, flooding the apartments and a parking area. The complex paid to relocate residents to a hotel while the apartments are cleaned and the Red Cross is helping with food, said Linda Bryant, property manager at Royal Oaks.

        “My residents are devastated,” Ms. Bryant said. “It reminded me of when the Ohio River floods. I knew these people ... were in trouble.”

        While grateful for the complex's help, Mrs. Mays said she doesn't want to go through this again.

        “You shouldn't have to worry about things like this,” she said.

        After several weeks of wet weather, the Tristate may get a break. AccuWeather forecasters predict mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies today and Saturday, with a chance of storms Sunday. Temperatures should reach the upper 70s to low 80s.


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