Angry residents share their complaints about flooding with local, state officials
The storm dumped 21/2 inches of rain in 30 minutes.
By JEANNE STARMACK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Flooding victims from the hard-hit North Wickliffe and other areas of the township packed the trustees' meeting room with story after story of grief caused by Thursday's heavy rain.
People talked of water ruining everything on the first floor of their homes, of sewage gurgling up through their bathtubs and toilets and of standing in the middle of their streets in waist-deep water.
They talked of sandbagging around their homes and garages.
Some said at Monday night's trustees meeting they would move out of Austintown if the township didn't do something.
Roanoke Avenue residents complained that even as water coursed down their street, people in sport utility vehicles drove through it, sending waves of even more water into their homes.
Trustees listened sympathetically. They had called in representatives from the state and county emergency management agencies to listen as well.
North Roanoke resident Joseph James said there's simply no place for the runoff storm water to go but into their homes.
Township Administrator Michael Dockry said the runoff starts on Mahoning Avenue, flows north, then heads to Resurrection Cemetery on North Raccoon Road. From the cemetery, it heads into the Wickliffe area.
The township has a retention pond in the cemetery that normally works to protect the neighborhood, but Thursday's rain dumped 21/2 inches of water in 30 minutes. The retention pond couldn't hold it all, trustees said.
James said his family members lost all their furniture and 90 percent of their personal belongings.
Marcia Mundy of North Main Street said that she got 2 inches of water in her basement and that it got into her furnace. She said sanitary sewer water "gushed" out of her toilet.
North Edgehill resident Mary Kay Wilburn said a hole 51/2 feet wide and 8 feet deep opened in her backyard over a storm sewer. The hole created a whirlpool.
"I already have mold growing in my back room," she said.
One resident who said no one could believe the smell in her home was met with calls of, "oh, yes we could." The smells of must and sewage were unbearable, people said.
Clark Jones of the county Emergency Management Agency and Vikki Bunting of the state Emergency Management Agency said they would assess the damage and would forward information to the county commissioners. The commissioners take the information and decide if they should ask for a declaration of emergency from the governor, Jones said.
He said Austintown's case is "marginal" because there was no damage to infrastructure, roads and schools.
"But don't lose hope," Jones added. "We know this is a local issue, but let's try to get state aid."
He also said that if people have problems from flooding that the county might be able to help them with, they can call the county's nonemergency help hot line, 211.
Dockry said he has been told by consultants that adding another pond in the cemetery is the best course of action to prevent more destruction.
Trustees said they have sought grants and spent $4 million over the past 10 years on flooding projects. The retention pond in the cemetery was included in those projects.