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Northeastern Ohio Begins Flood Cleanup

July 30, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ More than 80 houses were destroyed by flooding in the riverside town of Painesville in northeast Ohio, officials said, as evacuated residents returned to survey the damage and remove debris.

About 600 people had been evacuated Friday when 10 inches of rain raised the Grand River 11 feet above flood level, fire Capt. Ken Takacs said. The river curves around three sides of Painesville.

One man was killed during the flooding when he fell into the water at a marina in the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake and drowned, said Lt. Tom Powers of the Mentor police. The body of Stephen Rihaly was found Friday evening on the shore of Lake Erie in Mentor.

In Painesville alone, 81 houses were destroyed by the flooding, said Larry Greene, Lake County emergency management director.

The water remained too high Saturday for Deborah Tooley and her 11-year-old daughter to return to their rented home in Painesville. The day before, they waited three hours to be plucked from their roof by rescuers with boats.

Since then, they have been staying with relatives and making frequent trips to a shelter set up in a high school to get updates from emergency crews.

``I spoke with my insurance company and I’ve lost everything,″ Tooley said. ``Everything I have is a complete and total loss.″

Two shelters remained open and the Red Cross was preparing to open another in Perry Township for residents of a mobile home park that remained underwater.

A flood warning remained in effect for Lake County until Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland. More rain and thunderstorms were possible over the weekend, meteorologist Frank Kieltyka said.

Lake County sheriff’s officers had recovered 16 boats swept away from marinas, Lt. Carl Dondorfer said. Some were still attached to the docks, which floated alongside them in the open lake.

Officers also were assessing roadways; many were closed because of structural damage and standing water, Dondorfer said.

The flooding was the latest round of severe weather to hit Ohio. Several storms, some including tornadoes and others leading to flooding, have pounded parts of the state during the past month.

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