Mourners Remember Victims of Flash Flood
SHADYSIDE, Ohio (AP) _ About 900 people said prayers, sang hymns and hugged Wednesday night during a memorial service for 22 people killed in a flash flood last week.
Gov. Richard Celeste told mourners the flood demonstrated the power of nature and the resilience of the human spirit. He offered a prayer for the victims.
″We have learned again of your power. Sometimes it’s a dreadful power beyond our imagination,″ Celeste said. ″But in our shock and pain and grief we learn of the power of the human family. And we reach out, share a hand and warm embrace.″
The 45-minute service was held at Shadyside High School’s football field under threatening skies.
Earlier in the day, authorities urged about 150 people to leave their homes in this eastern Ohio village because of the threat of storms, but the call for an evacuation was later lifted. Only about 12 people had gone to a shelter set up at an elementary school, volunteer Barb Geer said.
Vice President Dan Quayle offered his condolences to Shadyside in a letter read at the memorial service.
Two roses, a red one for adults who died and a yellow one for children, rested on a pulpit in the middle of the football field. Members of the Shadyside Volunteer Fire Department received a standing ovation from the crowd.
One evacuee Wednesday at the elementary school, 65-year-old James Saffle, said he was still shaken from last Thursday’s flood.
″All these people are dead. All your friends are gone, and you don’t understand how. You can’t understand it unless you go through it,″ he said.
A wall of water surged down the Wegee and Pipe creek valleys and the Ohio River, washing away houses, cars and anything else in its path. The dead have been found in debris along the creeks and in the river.
The National Guard, Ohio Department of Transportation officials and volunteers have been working to clear the creek of debris that would cause runoff from a storm to back up and cause more flooding.
Clearing efforts have been slow in some areas where obstructions were removed by hand in a search of victims.
Local officials and volunteers, meanwhile, worked to reduce the number of people reported missing since the flood. Twelve names remained on the list Wednesday, down from 60 listed as possibly missing the day after the storm.
Capt. Jim Boling of the Ohio adjutant general’s office said it was questionable whether seven of the 11 still listed as missing on Wednesday were actually missing, ″but we’re not going to remove their names until that is confirmed.″