Headed to higher ground

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 24, 2003

Bad weather throughout the weekend forced the evacuations of one family in Aid Township. Meanwhile, other parts of the county are still waiting for electricity to be restored, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol is warning motorists throughout the county to be aware of the dangers of high water.

Aid Township Fire Chief Joe Justice said the family was without power and lived along Symmes Creek. The water was over the road in their neighborhood, and firefighters convinced the family to seek shelter with relatives until the weather situation improves.

"They had a child that just came out of the hospital, an infant with medical problems, and we convinced them to go to a relative's house," Justice said. "It's been a pretty rough week. We've had someone at our firehouse 24-7 for the last week, and some of our firefighters don't even have electricity in their own homes. They've had to take their families to stay with relatives and then come to the firehouse to help neighbors."

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In a prepared statement, American Electric Power officials said 30 customers in the Ironton area remain without electricity after last weekend's ice storm. Buckeye Rural Electric Member Service Director Russ Elliot said he estimates that 300-500

of that company's Lawrence County customers are still waiting for service, as well as customers in neighboring counties.

"Lawrence County was one of the hardest hit areas," Elliott said. "Our biggest hindrances to getting power back on in these areas are high water in some areas, a lot of broken poles on hillsides and hard-to-get-to areas, brush on roadways and brush in areas where poles need to be replaced."

Elliott said there is no estimated time of repair for the Buckeye Rural Electric outages.

The melting ice and snow, coupled with rains over the weekend has filled many creeks and streams. Motorists are being urged to exercise extreme caution when driving through low lying areas.

Motorists are reminded not to drive through water on the road, as flowing water is extremely powerful and can sweep away vehicles of all types. It is also impossible to accurately gauge how deep water is on a roadway, even if one is extremely familiar with it. It only takes two feet of water to float most cars.

Joint teams of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency damage assessment will be in Lawrence and seven other southern Ohio counties to survey weather-related damage. Depending on the extent of damage, federal disaster assistance may be authorized for local governments in the affected areas.

Larry Jewell, deputy director of the Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency, said Sunday that residents have little choice but to wait for the weather to break.

''That or God to bless us or something,'' he said.