WILLOUGHBY HILLS - Residents on Trailard Drive were packing up their belongings, buttoning up their homes and moving themselves to higher ground on Thursday, in a voluntary evacuation order along parts of the Chagrin River.
An ice jam on the river combined with heavy runoff from melting snow downstream forced the Chagrin River over it’s banks late Wednesday.
Homeowners say their homes were surrounded by ice and water from the river in a matter of only about 20 minutes.
Firefighters responded, taking some people from the community by boat.
On Thursday the river had receded, although a massive ice jam remained south of Daniel’s park, threatening the same low-lying neighborhoods.
Chris Donovan returned to his home, moving belongings to the second floor, getting his car out of his previously flooded garage and nervously watching the river.
“For us, the last time it was this bad was in 77-78 when water came across the road and surrounded the whole house just like it did last night,” said Donovan, who spent Wednesday night in a local motel.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to stay or get out, you know, because I have gone through this my whole life so I know what to expect. It didn’t look all that great last night when I left. The water was getting deep, so it just came down to me talking to the fire department and they said 'hey if it gets worse we can’t guarantee we can come back in and get you' so that’s the decision right there,” he added.
Next door ice and water from the river had surrounded the home of Leah Pesek.
“All of a sudden last night the river came way up Like i have never seen before and we got all of our animals and kids and cars and left here, firemen were down here evacuating people and putting them in boats to come out of their house and stuff,” said Pesek.
Fire officials were cautiously monitoring the river’s level on Thursday.
Water under the ice was flowing.
That was good news but they were also watching the forecast over the next several days, advising homeowners to remain prepared for anything.
“The concerns are as that additional water comes through and starts to move that ice that’s packed up whether it just blows it through and it moved down the river or if it moves in jams and you have that additional water behind it you can get an ice jam forming and the water come up and spread,” said Assistant Willoughby Hills Fire Chief Tom Talcott.
Fire officials were asking residents to also monitor the Lake County Emergency Management website for advice and conditions.
“If you live in an area where you know you flood or there’s concern that you flood you need to have your go bag ready to go you need to have valuable papers your medications anything you need on a daily basis that's valuable to you, have that ready to go,” said Talcott.
There were also flood concerns in Rocky River yesterday due to the warming weather. Crews are also monitoring those.