Sunday, May 11, 2003

On Rapid Run Road, residents mopping up

Overflowing storm sewers backed up into homes

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer


From his parents' mud-soaked basement, Jamie Penley pulled out a wet newspaper and carefully laid its prized page out over the front-porch railing.

"I'm hoping it will dry out," said Penley, 24, of the 10-year-old article about his karate tournament.

Like many families along Rapid Run Road on Saturday, Jamie and his brother Chuck spent the day trying to salvage what they could from a waterlogged basement.

"All of my yearbooks are gone," Jamie Penley said. "It's upsetting."

Their neighborhood was one of the hardest hit as weekend thunderstorms raked the Tristate, flooding basements and roads and causing scattered power outages.

Much of what was stored in Raymele and Chuck Penley's basement was their grown children's childhood keepsakes.

The family had about $5,000 worth of flood insurance, but "we lost more in baseball cards than that," said their son, Chuck Penley Jr., 34.

Saturday's storms caused the cancellation or postponement of several events:

• MS Walk: The walk to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, scheduled to begin 9 a.m. at Sawyer Point, was cancelled. It has not been rescheduled but several upcoming walks are scheduled, including a MS Walk at 9 a.m.May 18 at Thomas More College.Visit for a complete list of upcoming walks.

• The City of Woodlawn's Mayor's Walk: Mayor Susan Upton Farley organized this five-mile walk in Woodlawn's Hike & Bike Trails to encourage residents to take time for health. The walk, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, has been rescheduled for 10 a.m. May 24th, at the Westfork Millcreek Bike & Hike Trail, Woodlawn.

• The Cincinnati Opera Guild Ring Cyclers: The Lunken Field event, organized to raise money for the Cincinnati Opera, will be rescheduled. Call 513-744-3207 for information.

• The City of Silverton Neighborhood Block Watch Yard Sale: The daylong event has been rescheduled for 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot at Montgomery and Plainfield Roads.

To save clothes, Raymele Penley laid them on a bird cage and sprayed them with a hose.

"I can't put it in the washer until I get the mud out of it."

Heavy rains early Saturday morning turned Rapid Run Road into a river, residents said. Water rose up like geysers from the sewers in the streets.

"When the sewers couldn't take no more, it backed up into everyone's basement," Chuck Penley Jr. said.

At the Penley house, a boat stored in the basement shot up with such force the boat's motor left a 2-foot hole in the ceiling. A water line was visible about 6 inches from the ceiling.

In the 26 years the family has lived in the house, it has flooded badly only once - 25 years ago.

Last year, Chuck Penley Sr. had the driveway and drainage replaced and engineered to keep water out of the basement.

"If the sewers would have worked, my drains would have worked fine," he said.

Saturday afternoon, construction Dumpsters full of couches, chairs, televisions and other basement furnishings lined Rapid Run Road.

"My stuff's in that Dumpster, too," said Rob Meadors.

The water was a rude awakening for Meadors, 21, who was asleep in his basement bedroom Saturday morning.

The water rose to about 3 feet in the basement of the house where Meadors lives with his mother, Melanie Pena.

Next door, the force of the water knocked down a cinder-block wall separating Rick Roland's garage from his basement.

Roland's 6-year-old son cried when he saw the basement.

"All of his toys and stuff got ruined," Roland said. "I took him straight to his grandmother's house."

But on the way, a sewer drain popped up and flattened one of Roland's tires.

Because Saturday was the fourth time in six years his basement had flooded, Roland said it might be time to move.

"I think we are going to sell," he said.

When the water receded, a slick coating of mud was left. As Roland and his family were deciding how to clean the mud out, they realized the house had no running water.

Jerrie Manning, who has lived on the street 14 years, said the flooding was getting worse.

She blamed it on new condominiums at Anderson Ferry and Rapid Run.

"I've called the EPA, the City of Cincinnati, Delhi to check these drains," Manning said. "They said it's fine. No, it ain't."


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On Rapid Run Road, residents mopping up
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