Scavengers Strike Following Lake County Flooding

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WILLOWICK, Ohio-- Lake County is officially declared a disaster area after heavy rains flooded the area on Saturday.

The Lake County Management Agency declared the status Monday afternoon, as thousands of locals like Marlene Hribar are left with significant damages to her homes.

The State of Ohio will submit an application to request federal assistance for the area.

“We pretty much lost a lot of our stuff down in the basement. New carpet, computer desk, personal belongings, everything,” said Hribar, a Willowick resident.

Hribar has left unsalvageable items curbside, as asked by the City of Willowick. Yet, over the past couple of days, Hribar said she’s seen several scavengers take her discarded belongings.

“It makes me so frustrated and angry, because you know what? They’re going to take profit off of our sorrow, our loss,” she said.

Monday afternoon, she confronted a woman who she believes was scavenging. Things quickly escalated into a heated exchange.

“You’re going to take advantage of people’s loss and unfortunateness? That’s real nice, lady. Real nice,” Hribar shouted.

“I flooded too ma’am,” the woman yelled back.

Willowick Police Chief Michael Lazor says scavenging increases when disaster strikes, but it is illegal. The city has ticketed several people since the storm.

”I think that’s part of the problem,” Lazor said. “People are upset. I mean, for a lot of them, they lost a lot of not just expensive items but treasured items, family items, and to have someone picking through it, it’s almost adding a certain amount of insult to the injury of their loss as it is.”

Lazor said instead of confronting a person, however, it’s best to call 911.

He advised if you see a person on your lawn, take down as much information as you can, including a picture and the accused’s license plate number.

Fellow resident Nella Green isn’t offended by scavengers, even if it is against the law.

“You never know where people are coming from and if it’s better than what they have, and they can use it, I say go for it,” Green said.

Hribar hopes people will reconsider picking during a stressful time for so many families.

“What we lost, there’s no comparison,” she said. “You know, stuff you had for years and years, gone in one day. Still see the watermarks… gone. Gone.”

*CLICK HERE for more on the severe weather that struck over the weekend.

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