Friday, July 27, 2001

Rain brings more flooding to soggy Tristate

By Steve Kemme and Stephenie Steitzer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Storms triggered more flash flooding in parts of the Tristate on Thursday, even as families and businesses staggered under the task of cleaning up after last week's floods.

        In Butler County, more than 300 homes were damaged by the July 17-18 storms, and many families will feel its effects for years to come, one official said.

        “You look at the elderly people whose homes were destroyed. They'll spend the rest of their lives trying to recover,” said William Turner, director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency, which issued a report to county commissioners Thursday on the flood's aftermath. “It will take years for many families to recover financially.”

[photo] Workers at Beechmont Toyota in Anderson Township push a car to higher ground. Rain brought more flooding to parts of the Tristate on Thursday.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        Three people were killed last week in flash flooding, which also left millions of dollars in damage. County officials are still tallying the storm's toll.

        The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is expected to decide today whether to declare Butler and Hamilton counties disaster areas, said Don Wait, spokesman for the SBA's Disaster Assistance Office in Atlanta.

        Disaster area status would make those two counties, as well as bordering counties, eligible for SBA low-interest loans and state emergency assistance grants. The bordering counties are Clermont, Warren, Montgomery and Preble in Ohio; Kenton, Campbell and Boone in Kentucky; and Dearborn, Franklin and Union in Indiana.

        Meanwhile, heavy rains in parts of Greater Cincinnati wreaked more havoc Thursday morning. Parts of Anderson and Union townships along Beechmont Avenue/Ohio Pikewere inundated by runoff.

        Several businesses were closed for parts or all of the day to clean up the mess, including Beechmont Toyota on Beechmont Avenue, which had more than a foot of standing water on its lot.

        General Manager Farlon Smith said employees arrived at work just in time to move vehicles to higher ground. While outside inventory was mostly spared, the indoor showroom sustained moderate water damage.

        Across the highway, several stores at the Cherry Grove shopping center also were hit by the water and were forced to close for at least part of the day.

        T J Maxx District Manager Bob Casciotti said the clothing store was closed all day Thursday and may reopen today.

        In Butler County, Mr. Turner's report outlined the extent of the damage that occurred last week in 10 communities.

        “The bulk of the homes with the most severe damage were in Liberty Township,” he said.

        The storm also caused more than $1 million in damage to roads and bridges under the control of the Butler County engineer's office. West Chester Township roads and bridges experienced $250,000 in damage.

        The storm damaged 121 homes in Hamilton, the most in any Butler County community, according to Mr. Turner's report. That included damage to 32 apartments at the Brook Hollow Apartments on Hampshire Drive.

        There were 110 homes damaged in West Chester Township; 35 in Fairfield; 32 in Milford Township; 29 in Liberty Township; eight in Somerville; eight in Seven Mile; six in Fairfield Township; and one in Hanover Township. The Hawthorn Glenn Nursing Home in Monroe was damaged, as well.

        The total financial damage to homes in Butler County has not been tabulated yet.

        At least nine of the 25 owners of damaged mobile homes at Gregory Creek Mobile Home Park in Liberty Township are uninsured, Mr. Turner's report says. None of the owners of three mobile homes in that park that were destroyed has insurance.

        Clermont County roads and bridges also sustained extensive damage.

        Sandra Guile, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross Cincinnati chapter, said the organization has helped 370 families at a cost of $350,000. More than 700 cleanup kits, packed with a broom, mop, bucket and cleaning solution, have been distributed.

        “The traffic flow to the service centers is continuous, and we are actually doing very well on volunteers,” she said.

        In Fairfax, where two people were killed last week, a team from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be visiting today to assess the flooding caused by Little Duck Creek and search for remedies.

        Meanwhile, Fairfax resident Teresa Hall and her family continued to deal with the aftermath of last week's deadly storms.

        Ms. Hall, 36, said they are making progress on her mother's large house on Bedford Street, but they still have a lot to do in her cottage in the back yard.

        Ms. Hall said she lost all of her appliances and furniture, and will not be able to live in her home for at least four months.

        “I didn't have much back there, but what I had I was proud of,” she said.

        Ms. Hall said cleanup efforts have been hindered by the heat and humidity, which slow things from drying out.

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