OTTAWA — Residents living on Ottawa’s west side woke Friday morning to find water from the Blanchard River flooding the streets. This did not seem to phase them much, though. By 11 a.m., people were wading through the water to get to where they needed to go. A homeowner on North Perry Street was out mowing the lawn while the flood waters were bubbling from the storm drains.
Life by the Blanchard
Jeff Hyman has lived on North Perry Street for 26 years and has seen 30 floods. He takes them in stride, he said.
“This is just an inconvenience for me,” he said. “At 26 feet, my garage gets a little water in it. At 28 feet my house becomes an island. The ‘07 flood was the only time we ever had water in the house. You need to move your car to higher ground.”
Hyman said he also gets up every two hours to check the river levels when a flood is on the way. When you live close to the river, you know flooding is going to happen and you prepare for it, he explained.
“You just watch what they post and hope it doesn’t rain as much as they say,” he said.
Ally Mahlmeister, of Ottawa, did not get that advice from Hyman. Mahlmeister and boyfriend Tyler Straley went to bed Thursday night not knowing how high the Blanchard River’s waters were forecast to get Friday, she said.
“I woke up at 8:30 to see the water was knee high,” she said, adding her car was submerged.
Mahlmeister called her father to ask his advice on what to do, and he came by to help get the car out, she said.
Mahlmeister, her father Don Hovest and Straley started pushing her partially submerged car, which began to make loud squawking noises as the flood waters shorted out the car’s electronics. Hovest had a tow truck waiting to transport his daughter’s car to higher ground.
“There are fish living in my car now,” Mahlmeister said, laughing. “I’m not sure how it got in there but I swear I felt it when I got in.”
She waded back through the flood waters, which were by that time up to her waist, to return to the house she has shared with Straley and his father for the past few months.
Cats can’t go home
Gretchen Marks, with Humane Ohio, had driven from Toledo to Ottawa Friday to return stray cats to North Perry Street. She had captured the cats Wednesday as part of the catch, neuter and return program the organization had started recently as a way to help Ottawa Village Council take care of the stray cat population.
“I’m really surprised,” Marks said, looking for any dry path she could use to get to her destinations.
Marks decided she couldn’t get to the homes the animals frequented and it wasn’t safe to just release them into the flood conditions anyway.
“We have to take them back and care for them for the next few days,” she said, adding five of the cats she had captured were kittens and she was going to stay and try to capture their mother.
Marks left her van running with the air conditioning cranked up so the cats would be OK and took a can of cat food, a drop trap and the caged kittens out to see if she could capture the mother. She set the trap up at Hyman’s house because his wife takes care of many stray cats in the neighborhood, including the mother cat.
The plan was to use the kittens as bait, Marks said. She set them next to the drop trap, tied a rope onto the trap and waited for the mother to be drawn to her kittens. After almost two hours the mother didn’t arrive and the waters had risen considerably in that time.
She gathered up the kittens, her gear and returned to Toledo until the water receded and it was safe to return the cats.
Ottawa-Glandorf road closings
There were many road closed signs set up in Ottawa and Glandorf Friday as flood waters crossed roadways, making driving hazardous. Ottawa Township maintenance workers like Tim Collet are the people who put those signs up.
“We know what roads to looks for and what stages they go underwater at,” he said while assembling a road closed sign on the Glandorf side of H-11 at around 2:45 p.m. Friday.
County Road H-11 was the third road Collet had closed Friday, he said, adding 224 and I-9 were the others. He guessed he would be closing County Roads 12-H, 10-L and K-6 by Friday evening, he said.
An Ohio Department of Transportation press release sent at 4:29 p.m. Friday states U.S. Route 224 and state Route 65 in Ottawa are both closed due to high water.