EASTLAKE, Ohio – Fast-rising water gushed into homes early Friday in suburban Cleveland, chasing people to rooftops to await boat rescues as 10 inches of rain raised the Grand River 11 feet above flood level.
"We think everybody got out. But we cannot be certain," warned fire Capt. Ken Takacs, who estimated 600 residents were evacuated along the river, which curves around three sides of Painesville.
In Eastlake, between Cleveland and Painesville along Lake Erie, the Coast Guard searched for a man reported missing while checking on his boat at a marina near the Chagrin River.
A deluge hit the area Thursday and early Friday, but by midday the sun broke through and flood waters began to recede. The weekend forecast called for clear weather.
Gov. Bob Taft declared a state of emergency in Lake County, helping the state provide resources to respond to the flooding and assist with recovery.
The evacuations in Painesville included 10 to 12 people rescued from condo and apartment rooftops by boat crews operating in 15 feet of water, Takacs said.
Some people had to drop from second-floor windows, and in one case a large front-end loader nudged a rescue boat through a tough current to reach a woman who uses a wheelchair, Takacs said.
Jeanette Fattori, 57, and her husband fled their Eastlake home with only their prescription medication.
"I thought we were going to drown. It was just filling up our basement and the only way we got out of there was in a small boat with people from the fire department," Fattori said at a Red Cross shelter.
Kevin Ford, 37, said the water flooded the bottom floor and garage of the Painesville condo he shares with his mother.
"We had two vehicles, appliances and furniture and they're probably all destroyed. I saw a refrigerator floating," he said.
Flooding severely damaged many of the riverfront condos and apartments, but there were no immediate damage estimates, Takacs said.