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Flood victims slowly get lives back to normal



Published: Mon, September 4, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Community, strangers help families hurt by flooding.

CONCORD, Ohio (AP) -- Northeast Ohio residents are still struggling to return their lives to normal more than a month after torrential rains forced the Grand River and its tributaries to rise above its banks.

Many, like Concord Township residents Korene Compton and Joe Cogan, are depending on the kindness of strangers and community support to move back into their homes and move on with their lives.

Lake County was inundated with nearly 10 inches of rain July 27-28, when floodwaters washed away a half-dozen bridges and rushed into thousands of homes.

Since then, Cogan and his wife, Glori, have been rowing a raft across the Big Creek on their property. It was the only way they could travel between their home and a nearby road after the waters washed away a bridge.

Over the weekend, a team of volunteers arrived to help construct a 5-foot-wide footbridge made of utility poles.

"While everyone else is pretty much getting back to normal, Joe is just starting," said state Rep. Tim Cassell, D-Madison Village, who helped with the project. Also helping were construction, gravel and trucking companies and volunteers from local bricklayers', carpenters' and laborers' unions.

The bridge is complete with a level plywood floor and handrails. Cogan said the bridge will help him get supplies to his flood-damaged home.

A permanent bridge will be rebuilt in the fall, and the Cogans plan to stay on their property.

Another victim's story

In Painesville, Compton fled the rising waters with five of her eight children and a backpack full of crackers, diapers and baby wipes. Her neighborhood of condominiums and apartments was one of the hardest hit and is still largely empty.

Realizing the family didn't have a place to go home to, Compton sent six of her eight children to stay with a grandmother in Virginia while she formulated a plan to move on.

She found a Concord Township condominium to sublet but then had to set about the task of furnishing bedrooms for the kids and arranging their transfer into the Mentor school district. The kids finally moved into their new home last week and plan to start school Tuesday, a welcome return to normalcy.

Cogan said there are others who will need even more support to get back on their feet.

"There are certainly people who are worse off than we are by a long shot -- who lost everything -- and I hope they've had the same kind of outpouring and generosity shown to them as we have," Cogan said.




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