During her first four months in business, Mary Ann Abbott’s home furnishing store has twice been flooded by the Ohio River. She’s not willing to get soaked again.
“I think I’m done,” she said Monday.
The river, fed by swollen tributaries, has flooded parts of West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana since heavy rain fell last week on ground already saturated by melted snow from a storm before Christmas.
Sterling Parker, 22, of Hillsboro, was killed Monday when he drove into high water, said Highway Patrol Sgt. Rob New. A 16-year-old girl in the car swam to safety.
The storm also produced snow and ice that knocked out power, and authorities believe carbon monoxide poisoning killed five people who were using generators for electricity in Ohio and two in Pennsylvania. Utilities said about 10,800 customers still had no power Tuesday in Indiana, and about 25,000 were still in the dark in Ohio.
The Ohio River crested early Tuesday at Cincinnati at nearly 5 feet above flood stage, said Jeffrey Sites, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. It isn’t expected to fall below the 52-foot flood stage there until at least Thursday.
More rain fell Tuesday across parts of Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Some roads along the Ohio remained under water Monday. Floodgates went up over the weekend in riverfront communities such as Portsmouth, Cincinnati and Covington, Ky., for the first time since 1997.
In eastern Ohio’s Belmont County, about 10 hillside homes were evacuated over the weekend because the buildings were slipping on their foundations, said Becky Horne, administrative assistant at the county Emergency Management Agency.
Abbott, 27, opened her store on Sept. 10 in her southern Ohio hometown of Marietta, just two blocks from the river. The first flood came eight days later, ruining much of her stock. The second may have landed the knock-out punch.
On Monday, Abbott said she would sell her remaining merchandise from her home, then concentrate on her part-time job teaching English at Washington State Community College.
“I’m really not able financially to reopen again. I don’t have flood insurance,” Abbott said. “I’m not able to repair all the drywall and the floors.”
Clark Lawrence, 58, hastily left work Monday at the University of Cincinnati to rescue his 2-year-old Labrador retriever from the home he bought in December near the river in New Richmond.
Lawrence, who teaches strategic planning, said he wanted to have a house with views of the river and had expected there would be times he would have to cope with high water.
“I knew this was the price of what I was buying into,” he said.
In Point Pleasant, 20 miles upriver from Cincinnati, businessman Joe Middeler said this flood didn’t compare to watching water rise a foot an hour in 1964 and 1997, when the river soared to a 64.7-foot peak.
“It’s not that bad. It’s just an inconvenience right now,” said Middeler, 54, whose family has operated the Point Pleasant Food Market since 1950.
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