KINSMAN Twp., Ohio – Trustees, along with Trumbull County engineers and others, are working to try to find a way to restore access to some 23 homes, isolated after torrential rains undermined the only road in and out of their neighborhood.
Torrential rains began before sunrise on Saturday.
Greg Leonhard,the chairman of the township trustees, says as soon as he awoke he knew something was wrong.
“I got up about 6:15 or so and I looked out in my front yard and the front yard was puddling and my front yard never puddles,” said Leonhard.
Through his picture window he looked across the street at Kinsman Lake which he said had already reached a height he had never before seen and within moments the lake was rushing through his yard.
Leonhard started recording video of water from the lake washing over a causeway that has stood since it was built in the 1930s.
Moments later, power lines and trees started falling like dominoes and the lake punched a gaping hole through the causeway.
“It was just like a big pop. I mean we heard the trees and everything falling but it was different, something different,” said Leonhard.
The causeway was the only road in and out of a neighborhood where 55 people had to be evacuated from their homes through farm fields and woods.
“We had four wheelers, ATVs coming in from other departments; we had all kinds of other watercraft brought in but the water was too swift to put any watercraft on so we had to develop a plan to use ATVs to extract them from their homes,” said trustee Linda Miller.
As much as four inches of rain in a very short period also flattened cornfields and washed out a section of nearby Kinsman Pymatuning Road in a township that has only about 1,000 residents.
On Tuesday, the entire contents of the lake was gone, washed away.
At least one home was undermined by the rushing water and was being condemned.
Trustees were not able to assess any of the damage to other homes beyond the undermined causeway.
Power had been temporarily restored to the neighborhood but residents who wanted to get to their homes still would have to make arrangements with farmers to use their fields and the surrounding woods to get there.
The Red Cross was helping families who are unable to get to their homes.
Miller estimates the cost of the repair could be between $2 to $3 million.
That does not include the cost of any damage to homes in the area.
“You stand there in amazement because you honestly don’t believe what you are seeing,” said Leonhard.
“I would have bet my paychecks for the rest of my life that this would have never happened.”