VERMILION, Ohio - Cleanup is underway in a Vermilion neighborhood where three families were rescued by boat from their homes amid rising floodwaters.
Vermilion firefighters pulled 11 people and three dogs from low-lying homes on Riverside Drive around 11 p.m. Wednesday. The rescuers dodged large chunks of ice as they navigated boats through fast-moving water. No one was hurt.
"Even though they're highly trained at what they do, anything can happen in a moment's notice, and it can go from bad to worse in a heartbeat," said Vermilion Police Sgt. Gordon Adams.
An ice jam on the nearby Vermilion River caused it to breach its banks and water quickly surrounded homes.
"It came up so fast. We've been here seven years and never seen anything like it," said Chris Dreher, who estimated the water rose about two feet in just 15 minutes.
Dreher and his family, including two young sons, were among those rescued by firefighters and helped to higher ground. He said the family had moved its vehicles and felt they were prepared.
"We were watching for it, but usually there's time. And not this time," he said.
Neighbors said flooding is common in the area, but it has not been as severe in many years.
Austin Garber experienced his first flood since buying a home in the neighborhood in 2017.
"Knowing that we got the house right on the river, we knew this was coming," Garber said.
He and his wife spent Thursday cleaning mud and water out of their lower level. They were among those who chose to wait out the flood at home, knowing they had a staircase to get to higher ground if the water level rose too high.
"It's an eerie feeling knowing that you can't really get out, even though we've got the stairs, nowhere to really go," he said. "We were able to recognize that if you do need help, (firefighters were) offloading people two houses down."
The water level receded almost as quickly as it rose, leaving the neighborhood covered in massive chunks of ice.
"It's all just part of living here," Dreher said.