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					                          Close Encounters of the Flood Kind
                             By Ingrid Schaefer Sprague

With the memory of our flooded homes as fresh as the spotless new carpeting now in
many local homes, this column revisits the experiences of Brecksville and Broadview
Heights residents.

While I looked agape out my window at water rising in my front lawn, I called the
Broadview Heights police department to report our flooded street. The dispatcher’s
harried reply was, “Thousands of area homes are flooded – Is anyone hurt?” I could only
imagine what else was happening in town.

Within a day I saw the results of the high waters from Chippewa Creek and sewer
backflow. News of ruin from the Brecksville Center for the Arts, the library, the
Metroparks, and area businesses like Larsen Lumber were reported. Area homes along
Harris and Old Royalton roads had carpeting, furniture, electronics, and tile placed along
each mailbox. How many memories were thrown away with soggy photo albums and
diplomas?

More importantly, how many lives believed they were in peril, recalling recent events of
the past year in New Orleans? Debbie Kish, Director of Bright Beginners Daycare, said
she watched waves ripple in the parking lot as workers kept children busy enough not to
notice. Gymnastics World got most of the brunt of water coming down the hill behind
both establishments. Although Gymnastics World Owner Ron Ganim said he couldn’t
anticipate such damage, he had about 30 people helping him save mats and equipment.
“The loss was minimal compared to what it could have been had the mats been ruined,”
said Ganim.

Gymnastics World suffered about a $4000 loss in equipment as well as two days’ use of
the training facility while the building dried out. But this was not Ganim’s only pressing
problem. As he salvaged his business, his home was getting flooded on the other side of
town. “We had about $18,000 in damage,” said Ganim. “Everything was in our basement
while we remodeled upstairs.”

This is the second time for Ganim in remodeling his home as a result of area floods. The
last time was in August 2004.

I must admit my first thoughts at the sight of my flooding lawn were not as a journalist. I
did not grab my camera and rush to affected locations. Instead, I worried about my family
and my home – our own safety. Luckily, there are people in this world who put others
first. In addition to local police and fire, other safety heroes stepped forward. Richie Pine
of Diana Drive in Broadview Heights is one such individual. According to Broadview
Heights resident Susan Fowler, Richie and his monster truck spent time hauling people
and vehicles out of bad situations during the storm.
Other residents didn’t know of the catastrophe that awaited them until they returned
home from work. Michael Horgan of Sunnydale Drive in Brecksville said he didn’t know
why his neighbor was running a carpet steam cleaner so late in the evening until he
checked his basement on the advice of another neighbor. Horgan said his church, St.
Basil the Great in Brecksville, was coordinating efforts to help residents of Chippewa
Place assisted living center.

Through it all, Brecksville Mayor Jerry Hruby has received much praise for his
involvement. As Horgan said, “The mayor said at the Brecksville Home Days that he is
in the same boat along with the rest of us, cleaning up his basement along side us.

“He has done a great job helping us so far. The mayor has really stepped up efforts.”

The same weather that hit with such force traveled east, then leveling a blow to
Philadelphia and New Jersey. Ironically, we considered relocation there for work. Just as
I was astonished looking at the flood in my front yard days prior, I watched the water rise
in Yardley, Pennsylvania on television.

As I reflect on this flood, I remember sage advice from my mother who said people
shouldn’t live too close to the streams and canals in this area. Mom remembered flash
floods in her lifetime that happened along Riverview Road in Brecksville and Boston.
Little did I think I could say the same thing in my lifetime – particularly with a house
located on top of a hill.

Our hearts are with local residents who suffered losses as well as those who reached out
to others during their time of need. Lastly, let’s give credit to all the local city officials
who have been helping out during this stressful time.

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