“Cloudburst” aka The Hundred Year Flood
Garrettsville – Well, wasn’t it just! The heavens opened and at least some of us got a taste of the other end of the spectrum. If having several feet of water in the basement or watching the backyard doghouse swirling down the street doesn’t qualify as a premature look at a fate to be devoutly avoided, I don’t know what does.
Whooee ! Dot vass some kinda rain der, you betcha! At least one record-keeper said that the flooding had surpassed the big record-setter back in 1913. Of course, there weren’t nearly as many people living in as many places back then either. Nor were there as many paved roads and parking lots to supply run-off. The population in the whole state was only about half of what it is now, and floods were a fairly common occurrence. After 1913 and the devastation it brought all over the state, a broad system of water conservancy and flood control districts—first in the nation—was established in an attempt to forestall another such event. Quite a few of the large lakes at the centers of many of our popular state parks were the result of this action., especially in the Great Miami and Muskingum river basins.
Here in the ‘hood we were dealing with the Mahoning and the Cuyahoga and they weren’t about to take a back seat to any other wussy streams in the state when it came to putting on a rampage. No way. There was water roaring through places where it had never been before. There was gravel—and there were rocks—being moved to entirely new locations. There was plenty of flotsam and jetsam (not sure which is which) to go around…and it DID go around…and around…and around. I watched a container of some sort heading for the bridge and the dam down by the Mill, plenty of pieces/parts of trees were going along for the ride; there was a fishing bobber caught in a tree over in back of the village maintainance building. The guys were out setting up barricades across impassable roads; they probably ran out of signs—too many roads closed. There were cars practically bobbing in the water in a couple of spots. Water was up to the door at the fire station and lawn toys were moved into new lawns.
I put on my tall black boots, grabbed my umbrella and headed out for a look-see and saw plenty. A blue heron flew over the smaller Liberty St. bridge while I watched; he didn’t see any good wading spots just then. Down on Center St. where the old bridge has been replaced by a glorified culvert, Camp Creek was backing up and spreading out into backyards all the way over to Garrett House and back to the folks in Northgate. Karen Ziarko had a mamma duck and several little ducklings splashing about where her garage usta-was. Mamma Duck was worriedly quacking to keep everybody rounded up and from being sucked into the culvert and thence over the big dam on Liberty St(behind my house). The Canada geese usually residing down in back of the Village Hall were amazed at all of the new possibilities. Neighbor John Brock, who grew up in these parts, said that he’d never seen such a spectacle. The “old swimming hole” down on Brosius Rd. suddenly surpassed Olympic size and the asphalt on the bridge there was peeled away by the rushing water.
Down by the Mill the crash and thunder of water was drawing crowds of tourists. You wouldn’t catch me going out there on the boardwalk but plenty of people were walking through the mist( Not quite as impressive as Niagara but pretty amazing for Silver Creek/Eagle Creek) with their cell phones and cameras to record this for posterity. I heard that Channel 3 was out and about in Portage County but nobody got my breaking news angle. I know that You Tube and Facebook and such had chipped in to keep everyone apprised of what was happening. What was happening was WATER.
I was driving home from Niles as the downpour hit and, let me tell you, the car and I were navigating mostly by memory and a touch of Braille heading north on Rte 422. Don’t think there was hail but there were raindrops doing a real macho imitation. The radio, both WKSU and WYSU, was interrupted every five minutes by weather bulletins, none of them good. Heading west on Rte 305 was no improvement, though it may have been a tad north of the center of the action. Wherever there was water across the road, I got cautious and waited to see if somebody else was going to attempt a crossing first—State Highway Patrol : Do not attempt to drive through water of unknown depth—people behind me may well have been fuming but when they went around me at least I got a look at the water depth and was able to inch along to get to the other side. I had never noticed before how many dips in the road there were—PLENTY.
So, on we go through the wilds of Nelson to Brosius Rd. Turning south to go to Center St., Garrettsville I go past the McCoy ponds which were doing their Lake Erie imitation, past the Village Water installation up on the hill (the irony of it!) and looking down the hill I spy red and blue lights on a cruiser, indicating that I might not be a good idea to proceed any further. Back to Rte. 305 and more hairy dips with rushing streams where none had been before and then to Rte. 88. Just inside the village limits a glance to the left made it pretty clear that the Northgate development was not going to be celebrating much that evening. The parsonage of the Garrettsville United Methodist Church lost virtually the entire contents of its lower level—and it’s on a hill!
At home, things were pretty good. The only difficulty was when a drain got overwhelmed by the debris collecting there, forming a large puddle at the corner of the garage and the back steps; the backsplash penetrated the foundation mortar and weaseled its way over into the new basement wall. No cats doing the backstroke in standing water anywhere. No leaking roof. No electrical outage (That came the next day when a vehicle hit a transformer somewhere).
I would imagine that handymen, contractors and insurance agents all over northeast Ohio are hard at work right now…and will be for the foreseeable future.
Now we’re going to “Plan B”, ambient humidity. Check in back of your ears for fungus.