Residents Return to Their Homes After Ohio Floods

Eric Martin purchased a condominium a few weeks ago in Painesville, a Cleveland suburb surrounded on three sides by the Grand River.

On Friday, 10 inches of rain raised the river 11 feet above flood level, sending water pouring into homes and chasing people to rooftops to await boat rescues. An estimated 600 people were evacuated. One man died, authorities said.

Martin, 38, escaped the water with his wife and son — but found out his insurance does not cover flooding.

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"It's so depressing," he said. "I didn't panic. We don't know when we might get back, but I'm guessing we lost everything, or it's damaged, anyway."

Many residents had returned to their homes by Friday night, but two shelters remained open for people with power outages or sanitation problems, police dispatcher Wendy Loomis said.

"It is receding, but we still have a lot of little secondary creeks that are still at a higher level," Loomis said.

Gov. Bob Taft declared a state of emergency in Lake County on Friday, allowing the state to assist with recovery.

The evacuations in Painesville included 10 to 12 people rescued from condo and apartment roofs by boat crews operating in 15 feet of water, fire Capt. Ken 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.

Deborah Tooley, 42, a renter in Painesville, waited three hours to be rescued after climbing onto an awning with her 11-year-old daughter.

"It was terrifying," she said. "We crawled out of an upstairs window at 5 a.m., and it was still dark, and right below us was all this water that looked black, too."

An autopsy was conducted Saturday to determine the cause of death of Stephen Rihaly, 51, of Eastlake, whose body was found nine hours after he fell into the water at a marina in Eastlake, Lake County Coroner Salvatore Rizzo said.

It was the latest round of severe weather, including tornadoes and flooding, that has hit Ohio over the past month.