Oak Harbor, Port Clinton residents battle flooding after heavy rains


    June Deisenroth speaks about the flooding at her home in Oak Harbor on Wednesday.

    The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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  • PORT CLINTON — With their parking lot submerged in water, Lakeland Auto & Marine employees passed the time by using a forklift to pull each other on a water tube Wednesday afternoon across the water.

    Lakeland was one of several places throughout Ottawa County dealing with the floodwater left by heavy overnight rainfall. Residents stayed home from work and pumped water from their basements and garages. Parks were flooded. Streets were closed.

    Lakeland, though, opened at 8 a.m. and stayed open all day, despite the high water.

    “I had to zigzag to get here this morning with all the road closures in town,” said Alan MacGillivray, shop technician.

    The water interfered with a nearby sewage line — backing up sewage inside the shop’s main building, said Lenny Benyak, parts manager, which is why workers were trying to stay outside as much as possible.

    A few customers stopped by to pick up parts for their boats, he said. One customer dropped off a car in the only dry portion of the lot.

    “Most people are just driving by and taking pictures,” Mr. Benyak said.

    In Oak Harbor, Ohio, some residents struggled with where to put the water they were pumping out of their homes. June Deisenroth, who lives on Locust Street, was using a hose to pump water out of the mud room in her home, but with nowhere else to send it, it went into her backyard, which was already flooded. Inside, both her furnace and hot water heater were underwater.

    “We’ve never had a flood this bad before,” she said. 

    By early Wednesday, the water was all the way up her back porch. Her husband’s race car was still in the garage and almost submerged. Mrs. Deisenroth managed to get her vehicle out of the driveway and parked it on the grass in front of her house.

    “It’ll probably just sit here,” she said about the water in her backyard.

    Several houses down, Mark Sharples was waiting for a tow truck to get his wife’s car out of the street, where it had died the night before from the high water. On Tuesday night, to get home, she tried to drive down an alley directly in front of their driveway, he said. It was the same route he had taken when he got off work, but by the time she reached the alley at midnight, the water was a foot higher.

    “All the water went inside the car,” Mr. Sharples said.

    None of the water went inside of their house, he said, but it came right up to the front steps.

    “I’m surprised it got this bad,” he said.

    Commissioners on Wednesday afternoon declared a countywide state of emergency. In a news release, the county’s Emergency Management Agency urged people to check the agency’s Facebook page for updated information about road closures. 

    In Port Clinton, flooding prompted the mayor to declare a state of emergency, according to a news release.

    Hugh Wheeler, Jr., made the announcement Wednesday morning and asked that citizens use extreme caution and limit travel if possible.

    “It looks like the worst fell in Oak Harbor, Port Clinton, and Elmore,” said Patrick Saunders, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

    Mr. Saunders said radar estimates showed up to 3.5 inches of rainfall in Oak Harbor and from 2 to 3 inches across the rest of the county. 

    In Lucas, Wood, and Sandusky counties, Mr. Saunders said, radar estimates showed about 1.5 inches of rainfall at most. Rainfall was less than half an inch everywhere else in Ohio. The official rainfall amount Tuesday evening at Toledo Express Airport was 0.9 inch, with 0.74 of that falling between 6 and 7 p.m.

    Contact Kate Snyder at ksnyder@theblade.com, 419-724-6282, or on Twitter @KL_Snyder.