Ohio town floods for a third time

FINDLAY, Ohio — Jarrod Steffan loaded his kayak with fans and shuttled them across his flooded street Tuesday to begin drying out his house. It was a drill he knew all too well.

Floodwaters slowly began to recede after soaking several hundred homes, the third major flood to swamp this northwest Ohio city in the past four years.

"You can't do anything but rebuild and go on," Steffan said.

The floods were part of the aftermath of storms that swept through the Midwest and South over the past two days, spawning tornadoes and heavy rains and killing at least five people, including four in Tennessee.

A mix of melting snow and heavy rain threatened flooding in all 88 of Ohio's counties, the National Weather Service said. The worst, though, was in Findlay, where the Blanchard River topped out at less than 5 1/2 feet above flood level Tuesday morning.

That was about a foot lower than during a catastrophic flood four years ago that caused millions of dollars in damage — but it was still enough to leave a mess.

Mail carrier Jim Gangle carried tools and plastic bins from his garage into his driveway so he could clean out the muck. "If that's all that happens, it's easy to take care of," he said.

Preventing future flooding has become a top priority for this city of about 36,000 people 45 miles south of Toledo, but government studies estimate it will take several years and cost well over $100 million to build of a series of flood walls, earthen levees and channels to divert water.

Most folks had enough warning this time to move their belongings to higher ground.

Steffan, whose home had 5 inches of water on the ground floor, had moved his clothes, couches, mattresses and appliances to his father's house. He lost all those items four years ago in what was the city's worst flood.

The high water was mostly downtown and in a few residential neighborhoods. The main street was under 3 feet of water Tuesday morning.

"This doesn't even shock you anymore," said Casey Hensley, manager of a downtown Domino's Pizza store. "It makes you mad, but it doesn't shock you."