Rain-Swollen Ohio Rivers, Creeks Reach Their Breaking Point

Flood warnings for several western and northern Ohio counties were posted early Wednesday as rain-swollen rivers and creeks reached their breaking point.

In the northwest city of Findlay, residents were preparing for another flood just months after the city was swamped by historic levels of water that split the city in half.

The rains were being caused by warm, moist air that surged over the state following weekend snowfall. A combination of melting snow and frozen ground that doesn't absorb water was creating the perfect conditions for floods, officials said.

Findlay city leaders were ready to warn business owners that they should be ready to move if the Blanchard River spills over into the downtown area Wednesday. Rescue boats were on standby. The river was predicted to rise to about 3 feet above flood stage by early Wednesday afternoon.

But more rain was expected through Wednesday and could cause the river to rise even higher. If that happens, flooding will cover many streets and could force evacuations of some neighborhoods, said Jim Barker, the city's safety director.

Police officers will put cruisers at all of the city's fire stations in case the floodwaters split the city in half, which is what happened in late August.

Neighborhoods were isolated last summer when heavy rains dumped up to 10 inches during a few hours, bringing the city's worst flood since 1913. Damage to city-owned buildings and property was estimated to be as much as $31 million.

The city is buying some homes if the worst flood areas with the help of the federal government. "One thing in our favor is that a lot of the people who were flooded in August have not returned," Barker said.

Flooding also was expected Wednesday along the Maumee River in Waterville and Grand Rapids near Toledo. Other areas of northern Ohio were expecting heavy rains and some road closings.

The Grand River in Painesville, east of Cleveland, reached 1 foot above flood stage and was due to rise 2 more feet before cresting Wednesday. Flooding there in 2006 destroyed a riverfront condominium complex and forced residents to cling to rooftops awaiting rescue.

In southwest Ohio, portions of the Little Miami River and the Great Miami River also were under flood warning. Flood warnings also were issued for the Black River at Elyria and the Chagrin River at Willoughby.

In Mansfield about 60 miles north of Columbus, Ron Harvey missed a day of work when his cleaning and restoration business was hit Tuesday morning by about five inches of water, the fourth time in two years he's experienced flooding.

"We get nailed down here," Harvey said.

In Indiana Tuesday, some residents of northern counties were forced to evacuate along the swollen Tippecanoe River for the second time in less than a month.

Emergency managers said many people were still gone after flooding that began four weeks ago. Those floods have been blamed for the deaths of three people, including two children, and more than $33 million in damage to hundreds of homes.