Cleaning up, drying out



Lisbon residents have been without water since Saturday.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- West of Lisbon at Saltwell and St. Jacob's-Logtown roads, Mike Shaw cleaned up debris from a garage and persuaded his mother-in-law to leave her home.
As he worked Monday he kept a watchful eye on an earthen dam a few yards away. What remains of the dam, damaged by the flash flood early Saturday, is all that stands between his family and disaster.
National Weather Service and federal emergency management officials had warned Monday that the rest of the dam could give way, flooding the area.
Behind the earthen dam is a lake formed after the area was strip mined. Shaw said the lake is about 50 feet deep.
The lake is part of the Northeastern Ohio Christian Youth Camp, an organization of the Churches of Christ. Caretakers Leroy and Peggy Toothman had help Monday removing fallen trees from the area.
A creek that originates north of Lisbon in the Hunter's Camp Road area of Center Township flows down into the spring-fed lake, Leroy said. The debris from the flooding upstream stopped against the dam and caused much of it to collapse, he said.
Raging floodwaters spilled over the top of the dam, and water and debris rushed down the hill, across St. Jacob's-Logtown Road and into the Little Beaver Creek on the other side.
Peggy said she and her husband are staying in a camper far up the hill and slept through the storms Friday and early Saturday, unaware of the severe flooding that was happening below them.
"They had cement put in at the end of that culvert last year, but that water just moved it all," Peggy said. "This is really bad. That all went down there and across the road, and it changed part of the course of the creek."
Threat subsides
By late Monday afternoon, the NWS had lifted the flash flood warning for the area and the threat that the dam would collapse.
Peggy said she and her husband are volunteers who split their year between Florida and Ohio serving as caretakers for Christian camps. The camper is their only home.
From April to mid-October they are at the Center Township camp, then they move south for the winter to manage other Christian camps, she said.
Near McKinley Elementary on the southeast side of Lisbon, the men and boys of the Mount Joy Mennonite Church of nearby Leetonia ate pizza and potato chips and drank lemonade.
They arrived Monday morning to help Caldwell Street flood victims clean out their basements, pausing only for lunch. They sat along the wall of the school, their clothes and knee-high rubber boots caked with mud.
Sonya Rhodes and other women of the church arrived around midday with the lunches.
About 7 inches of rain fell in Columbiana County on Friday and early Saturday, overflowing streams and creeks. Mill Site Creek along Caldwell and Pritchard Streets became a raging wall of water in a flash flood around midnight Saturday.
"We just wanted to help people out," said 16-year-old Shawn Weaver of Columbiana.
Rhodes said around 150 people attend services regularly at the church, and there are 95 members. On Monday, about 40 people showed up to help the flood victims.
"This is our life, to reach out," Rhodes said. "We are glad to help, especially when it's our neighbors."
Collapsed road
About seven miles north of Lisbon just off state Route 45, Gary Eichler, employees of his LP gas company, friends and family were working to remove trees and other debris from the creek behind his home and business at the corner of Route 45 and Salem-Grange Road.
About 60 feet above the creek, Ohio Department of Transportation contractors worked to repair the section of state Route 45 that collapsed during the thunderstorms.
The culvert under the highway collapsed under pressure of floodwater that built up on the west side of the highway. Eichler said debris there created a lake and the culvert under the road just couldn't hold it.
Trouble began around 7:30 p.m. Friday and around 10:30 p.m. the hillside began to give way. Eichler said there are six Eichler family members but only three adults were home Friday night.
The house sustained only moderate damage with "a little bit of wet carpet," but a family dog tied near the creek was swept away in the flash flood.
Among the trees and mud being removed from Eichler's creek bed were thousands of red bricks, many of them intact. He said the bricks are from the other side of Route 45 and beyond a tree line, the remnants of the old Route 45, which was brick-paved decades ago.
"I've lived here 49 years, and this is the worst flooding I've ever seen," Eichler said. "We're cleaning up, but we're open for business, seven days a week."
No water
Lisbon residents have been without water since Friday's floods broke a main waterline. Monday they prepared for a fourth full day without municipal water service by filling jugs with water on the village square. Donated bottled drinking water also is available there.
There was no school Monday and residents said early Monday afternoon they'd already been told there would be no school today.
The Rev. Betsy Schenk of the First United Methodist Church said Lisbon services were canceled Sunday because of the flooding and the lack of water.
She has volunteered for the 12-hour shifts distributing water to residents on the public square, and her church members have taken water to the senior citizens complex north of town.
The Rev. Ms. Schenk said she made the best of a bad situation over the weekend.
"I put shampoo on my head and went out and stood in the rain."
She said, however, that she was a bit disappointed she had to cancel services. The sermon she'd prepared was on living water, the story of Jesus and the woman at the well.

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