Water Woes: More Help on Way for Lake County Residents

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LAKE COUNTY, Ohio-- Lake County commissioners and administrators are seeking a “Declaration of Emergency” after severe storms dumped several inches of rain on the county over the weekend, causing extensive flooding.

“We’ve been in touch with local officials, state representatives, the commissioners and we’re all hands on deck trying to pursue any avenues that might help,” said Jason Boyd, county administrator.

The widespread flooding and damage could be seen even days after the storms in cities like Eastlake, Wickliffe, Willowick and Mentor.

They are hoping to obtain federal and state relief funds from both FEMA and OEMA.

Mr. Boyd isn’t prepared to say exactly how many homes were impacted, but did say “a significant number” of homes were damaged by the floodwaters and also sewage.

“The predominant issue is the flooded basements, storm sewer backups, some sanitary backups; but we’re still in the vetting process of that. It’s obviously a very emotional topic and we completely understand,” said Mr. Boyd.

Some homeowners say their properties have flooded multiple times in recent years and they believe it is an issue with the sewer system. Mr. Boyd said that is one of many possibilities they are investigating.

However, right now they are focused on getting financial aid for flood victims and helping people clean up their homes.

The Red Cross has been doing damage assessments and passing out cleaning kits, while the Lake County Emergency Management Agency has been mobilizing a volunteer group to assist the elderly and physically challenged.

They are asking everyone affected to call 211 for updated information and to register with the county.

One frustrated couple said their Mentor home basement filled with several inches of sewage in a very short amount of time.

“It was all over the bathroom and the carpeting and basement,” said Vickie Petro.

“Raw sewage – it’s not water; it’s raw sewage,” added her husband, John Petro.

The Petros have lived in Mentor for years and say the flooding and sewage troubles just started over the last few years, but this has been the worst damage.

Not only was their basement a mess, but Vickie Petro’s daughter, who lives about 7 miles away in Willowick, was experiencing the same problem.

Kelly Gilcrest’s house had at least a foot of water and sewer backup in the basement, which was recently remodeled and refurnished.

“I happened to be on the phone with my mother and I was completely crying a blubbery mess,” said Gilcrest.

She says she’s just thankful that her family is okay, and that insurance should help cover the bulk of the damage.

But many other homeowners aren’t so lucky.

Piles of garbage bags, filthy waterlogged furniture and debris sit in front of nearly every home on some Willowick streets.

“Crazy emotional, but at the same time we feel very blessed. We know it could be worse,” said Gilcrest.

Crews have been working overtime picking up the piles of stuff, but with so much to remove, they’ve hardly made a dent.

The county has arranged for extended hours at the Lake County Solid Waste Facility landfill – for flood debris only.

The hours are as follows: Tuesday, July 23 through Friday, July 26 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for residents only, with no fees.

Private haulers and commercial drops can be made from Tuesday, July 23 through Friday, July 26 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m..

Special hours will also be held Saturday, July 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for residents only.

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