RITTMAN — Torrential rainfall overnight left neighborhoods flooded Monday in the city of Rittman while other nearby communities dealt with their own high-water issues.
From 4:30 a.m. to the late afternoon, it was an all-hands-on-deck situation as firefighters and other crews worked to drive water back into the Pigeon Creek and clean up mud and debris left behind. The Landis Ditch, which runs past the Rittman Shopping Center, breached its banks around 5 a.m. and quickly flooded North Main, Sunset, North State, Beach and Seneca streets. This also flooded all of the businesses in the plaza.
Fire Chief Don Sweigert led clean-up efforts around 1:30 p.m. at Rittman Center, 220 North Main St., where remaining water and thick mud made for dirty, wet work.
“It got pretty crazy around 3 a.m. when the warning started coming in,” Sweigert said. “That’s when all of us started to realize we were going to have a tough day ahead of us. We’ve been here since about 10 and it’s been pretty tough, tough for us and for the residents.
“I’d say it’s been around 13 years since we had flooding this bad.”
A National Weather Service flash flood watch for the vast majority of Ohio, including Medina, Ashland, Wayne, and Summit counties, is in effect until 10 a.m. today, predicting further rainfall that could cause new flooding or exacerbate existing emergencies.
- County Highway 50, Chippewa Road, between County Highway 19, Lake Road, and Township Highway 85, Ballash Road, in Lafayette Township;
- County Highway 52, Bear Swamp Road, between County Highway 75, Fixler Road, and state Route 162 in Sharon Township;
- Kennard Road, between Lake Road and Westfield Landing;
- County Highway 35, Friendsville Road, from County Highway 91, Garman Road south to the Wayne County line in Westfield Township;
- County Highway 46, Seville Road, between County Highway 15, Westfield Road, and Township Highway 57, Leroy Road, in Westfield Township;
- County Highway 15, Westfield Road, north to the Wayne County line to Township Road 91, Garman Road, in Westfield Township;
- County Highway 91, Garman Road, in Westfield Township;
- County Highway 90, Willow Road, between Township Road 73, Garden Isle Road, and County Highway 34, Franchester Drive, in Harrisville Township.
Sweigert said weather reports estimate roughly 4.5 inches of water fell overnight in just a two-hour span.
Sweigert said his department did not field any calls involving injuries due to the flood, but did respond to six separate instances of drivers attempting to push through high-water spots on the road.
“Even if you have a big truck, just don’t try it,” he said. “You don’t know if that road has been eroded away or if there’s a sinkhole that’s opened up. You can easily go down into it. Do not go in.
“Each of those six vehicles did not make it through. We had to rescue four people out of three of those vehicles. Luckily, it was in standing water on the roadways and not swift water.”
Before Pigeon Creek spilled over its banks, firefighters attempted to create a makeshift levy with a hose, which provided roughly
5 inches of protection. Water eventually flooded into the surrounding area quickly enough to sweep the hose away, the chief said.
“We got the hose deployed and the water just floated it, going over top and underneath it,” Sweigert said. “The current was so strong it pushed it across the parking lot. That was around 5 a.m. we got the call to come help the police officers who were on duty.”
Frederick Street resident Randy Cantley said the flooding of his basement apartment amounted to a total loss of his possessions.
“We have three pumps running in the house,” he said. “We finally got it to where you can walk in the basement. Sewer water and everything is down there.
“The water was coming up out of the sewer, out of my toilet and the floor. I lost everything besides what I’m wearing.”
Despite the traumatic experience, Cantley still maintained a sense of humor.
“I almost bought a remote control boat last week,” he said. “I wish I did. At least then I’d be having a little bit of fun.”
Flooding covered numerous front yards on Thonen Street as of 2:30 p.m. even though water had drastically receded by that time compared to the morning, said resident Paul Campbell.
“It was up here quite a ways, about a foot away from my neighbor’s driveway,” he said. “It was pretty bad. I was up and down all night and heard it raining, but I never thought to come out and look. My landlord texted me this morning and asked if we had gotten any water.
“We didn’t but everyone else seems like they did. I’ve seen this happen before but it’s been a long time.”
In Chippewa Lake, debris-filled water covered the shoreline and concealed several docks, stopping just inches short of spilling into the street and surrounding neighborhood.
Resident Bill Wilson said he had heard talk of basement flooding in the area.
“My grandkids said they had to cut their boats free of the dock because the ropes were so tight,” he said. “My friend on River Styx (Road) said she had 18 inches of water in her basement. She said it ruined her hot water heater.
“It was just so much rain.”