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Ohio governor tours flood-weary towns

Ohio Flooding
Floodwaters from the East Branch of the Rocky River cover a road in North Olmsted, Ohio, on Wednesday. The threat of worsened flooding stretched across Ohio, where two days of rain and melting snow pushed waterways past their breaking points.Mark Duncan / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Gov. Ted Strickland toured flooded towns across northwest Ohio on Friday, after three days of heavy rains and melting snow drove most of the region's rivers over their banks.

It was the second time in five months that area residents were faced with cleaning up from a flood. Fed up business owners urged Strickland to do something.

"I don't know how many more of these I can take," furniture store owner Jim Heringhaus told the governor.

Strickland said he understood their anger.

After flying over nearby Findlay, Strickland said it was terrible to see how many families had been affected by this week's flooding, especially because many were just putting their homes back together following the August flood, which was the worst since 1913.

"The state stands ready to help," the governor told local emergency officials. "We're all in this together."

At least 300 homes in Findlay flooded this time, most of which were hit last summer, said Jim Barker, the city's safety director.

A second damaging blow
The Blanchard River reached 5 feet above flood stage early Thursday before it began to drop, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland. The damage wasn't nearly as widespread as it was during the summer, but it was enough for those cleaning up again.

"People are in shock it happened so soon," said Neil Diemer, who was pumping water out of a rental home he owns in Ottawa.

The waters covered dozens of streets in Ottawa and damaged about 320 homes, said Putnam County spokesman John Norris. Sandbags protected a downtown pizza shop and a jewelry store. All but a few stores were dry.

"I feel for the folks who are going through the same mess again," said jeweler Chuck Wannemacher. "It's sad because a lot of those folks don't have a choice where they live. They're stuck."

Flooding not limited to Blanchard River
Nursing home residents in Tiffin were moved to a rehabilitation center Friday for temporary housing after the Sandusky River rose, said Dan Stahl, director of the Seneca County Emergency Management Agency. About 40 others also were forced to evacuate, he said.

About 40 miles northwest of Findlay, floodwaters forced evacuations in Defiance, where the Maumee, Auglaize and Tiffin rivers come together. Forty homes and seven businesses had water either in basements or on the first floor, said Capt. Ed Bohn of the Defiance Fire Department.

The three rivers — which were five to seven feet above flood stage — crested Friday morning, he said.