WEST LAFAYETTE, Ohio – Residents are cleaning up, returning to their homes and apartments in the Village of West Lafayette after the community was inundated with as much as seven inches of rain in a matter of only about four hours, beginning at 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Heavy rains spilled into basements and surrounded homes. At least seven basement walls collapsed.
Coshocton County Emergency Management Director Rob McMasters said the conservative estimate is that at least 150 homes and businesses suffered minor to severe damage as a result of the storm.
McMasters said at one time the volume of water from the storm was equivalent of the 100 year floods worth of water in about one hour.
“In talking with the National Weather Service their estimates are, in an hour time period, this area got three to four inches of rain and and could have got four inches of rain an hour if that system had stalled,” said McMasters.
The city was quick to issue an emergency declaration early Wednesday.
About 30 people had to be rescued from an apartment community by boat, including Tiffany Blair and Jordan Demattio who sat in their mud filled apartment Thursday for the first time since the storm struck.
“We had five minutes to contact somebody to come get us and we had five minutes to pack and that’s really it,” said Blair.
“I never thought I’d have to leave my house or apartment by boat, especially when there’s not any major bodies of water around here,” said Demattio.
The Red Cross set up a temporary shelter at a local church for those who could not stay in their homes. As of Thursday, however, the shelter was closed because everyone forced from their homes had found other places to stay.
In one neighborhood south of West Lafayette, high water continued to encircle a pocket of homes, one of which had a collapsed basement wall. Firefighters from neighboring communities were trying to pump as much of the water out of the natural basin and into a field across the street before additional rains in the forecast created an even bigger problem.
“If we get more rain we are going to be right back where we started from, so we are praying that the situation changes and we get some dry weather quickly,” said firefighter Steve Clark.
Clark, who has been a firefighter for 44 years, said he had never seen anything like this from a brief rainstorm before.
“We have rivers, we have flooding, we have a dam in this community — nothing like this so quickly that caught everybody off guard and everybody was trapped,” said Clark.