Heavy rains cause plenty of problems in the area

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 20, 2001

DECATUR TOWNSHIP – Flood damage on and around Ohio 93 Friday was serious to say the least.

Sunday, May 20, 2001

DECATUR TOWNSHIP – Flood damage on and around Ohio 93 Friday was serious to say the least.

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At least one family had completely lost their house, Paul Herrell, county commission president, said.

Some people had to be evacuated by the Red Cross Friday, Jerry Kelly, Washington Township trustees president, said.

"I never saw water like this here before – not in the 57 years I’ve lived here," Dennis Conley, who lives on Township Road 258 in Decatur, said.

The 58-year-old Conley, who owns Conley’s Auto Salvage, lost 30 to 40 cars due to the flooding, he said. Many of the vehicles were picked up and moved by the water. It washed the bed liner out of one truck, he said.

"It’s hard to say how much it cost me," Conley said.

Conley also said he lost several hogs in the flood. as the water rose above the building in which they were housed. Of the six he owned, he said he has found only one living.

Despite all the damage to his other property, Conley’s house was not damaged, he said.

Many people were trapped in their homes when the water washed away the bridges connecting their driveways to the highway. Washington township employee Wayne Keels said they were concerned because most of the people trapped by the flooding are elderly.

One such person was 91-year-old Edna Ryan. She lives on a hill on Township Road 258 in Decatur, and her driveway passes over Kimble Creek. The bridge was washed away around midnight Thursday night, Carl Ellis, Ryan’s son, said. At its highest, the water was 10 to 12 feet higher than normal, he said. It took a crew of Ellis, his friend Randy Sheppard and trustees Emory McFann and Garold Cox about four hours to rebuild the bridge, Ellis said.

One major concern were two or three propane tanks that washed away. One of the tanks, which belonged to Kenneth Jiles, washed away around 11 p.m. Thursday night Jiles said. The county commission plans to tie the tanks down to prevent them from washing away again or bursting, Herrell said.

Water tanks were supplied to Decatur residents who lost water due to the floods, Herrel said. Friday afternoon, the commission was still working on obtaining drinking water tanks for Elizabeth, Herrel said.

Meanwhile, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) crews were attempting to repair the damage to the roads. Part of the damage was handled by Jackson County ODOT, which handles repairs to part of Route 93 in Lawrence County.

"It’s crazy," crew member Amanda Travis said.

Travis said the crew had repaired several roads damaged by flooding, and Route 93 was the worst they had encountered.

Part of the crew began working Thursday night and continued all day Friday, she said.

ODOT crews had to remove trees that had fallen into the road, gravel and debris, remove blockage from culverts that caused flooding onto the road and rebuild berms that were destroyed, Travis said.

The crew will continue to work on Route 93, working overtime until dark and possibly Saturday, until they finish, Kathleen Fuller, ODOT public information officer, said.

Many other road have been closed, Fuller said. Route 141 was closed Friday around Arabia, and so was 218. Routes 217 and 775 were not closed, but were hazardous due to the high water, she said.