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Severe storms drench Akron area

7/18/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

Body of boy found in creek

A 1.1-mile section between the Metro Parks, Serving Summit County’s Memorial Parkway Trailhead and the Mustill Store Trailhead in Akron was closed indefinitely due to a serious washout, caused when the Cuyahoga River crested the trail, according to Metro Parks officials. Shown above is the trail under the North Portage Path bridge.
Debris dumped by the rising Cuyahoga River in Peninsula gathered at a trail fence.
SUMMIT COUNTY — Severe storms that moved through Northeast Ohio July 10 produced flooding rain and tornadoes and claimed the life of a young Akron boy. The worst hit areas in Summit County included Copley, Coventry, Springfield and Barberton, according to the Summit County Emergency Management Agency (EMA).

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), just more than 2 inches of rain fell at the Akron-Canton Airport July 10, bringing the July rainfall total to nearly 5 inches, more than 3-1/2 inches above normal. Akron city officials estimated 3 to 4 inches of rain fell in the city July 10.

While southern Summit County was included in a tornado warning during the afternoon, the NWS confirmed four tornadoes in Ohio, none of which were in the local area. Tornadoes were confirmed in Sandusky County, in Mineral City, near Ashland and in Seneca and Huron counties, as well as in eastern Pennsylvania.

Wind damage and a 60-mph wind gust were reported in Medina.

The July 10 rains came after many days of heavy rainfall, resulting in flooding throughout the area, according to the NWS. In Northwest Akron, a young boy who ventured into high water in Mud Brook near the Timber Top apartment complex died, according to law enforcement and Akron Fire Department officials.

A Hemlock Hills Drive woman made a report to the Akron Police Department July 11, around 8 p.m., that her 12-year-old son, who was autistic and nonverbal, according to the police report, jumped into a river behind their apartment and floated downstream. Following a search by local rescue teams, police officers reported the boy was found, deceased, July 14.

Shown above, the Akron Fire Department Water Rescue Team and Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department Water Rescue Team search for 12-year-old Nicholas Shaffer, who was swept away by the swift water of Mud Brook July 11. The boy’s remains were found July 14.
Photos: Ken Crisafi
The Akron Fire Department Water Rescue Team, along with the assistance of the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department Water Rescue Team, found the boy’s remains around 11:30 a.m. in Mud Brook. He was identified as Nicholas Shaffer.

According to his obituary, Nicholas attended Woodridge Intermediate School and the Kids First program in Copley for students with autism spectrum disorders.

Calling hours are today, July 18, from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at the Ciriello and Carr Chapel at 39 S. Miller Road, where funeral services also will be held tomorrow, July 19, at 11 a.m., with the Rev. Karen Biggerstaff officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Woodridge Local School District, Special Needs Program, 4411 Quick Road, Peninsula, OH 44264.

Local impact

As the area worked to recover from the storms, numerous agencies released updates and tips.

The Summit County EMA activated its Emergency Operation Center for several hours July 10. The EMA conducted damage assessments for communities across the county and provided any needed assistance.

In Akron, city officials received reports of roadway flooding and nearly 200 flooded basements. In response to these reports, city crews will pick up flooding debris from curb-service customers through July 26.

Those who have experienced flooding in their basements and are city of Akron curb service customers can put damaged material on the curb strip where normal trash is placed and call 3-1-1 from a home phone or 330-375-2311 from outside the city or from a cell phone to schedule a free pick-up. Pick-ups will occur on the normally scheduled pick-up day.

Normally, customers cannot put material out before 4:30 p.m. the day before pick-up. Due to the severity of the flooding, the city is waiving that rule until July 26. City curbside customers are encouraged to bring the wet and damaged material out of their basements as soon as possible and put it on the curb strip. This special pick-up will not count against the three special pick-ups the city offers to its customers each year, according to city officials.

The American Red Cross shelter at 501 W. Market St. reported that by July 12, all displaced residents had found alternative accommodations. The shelter closed July 13. The agency was providing logistical support to the shelter hosted by the Salvation Army at the Barberton YMCA, as the city of Barberton experienced flooding.

The Red Cross provided cleanup kits.

Elsewhere, Cuyahoga Falls Service Director Valerie Wax Carr noted the Cuyahoga River rose to more than 14 feet after the storm, higher even than it rose during the flooding in 1913, when the river crested at 11.8 feet.

Cuyahoga Falls “fared pretty well” July 10, said Carr, who described some downed trees, electrical outages and minimal basement flooding, as well as flooding around Waterworks Park, which is located in a flood plain.

Excessive rainfall, however, has forced the delay of the planned project to remove the dam near the Sheraton Suites.

Work is expected to resume when the water level lowers, she said.

Throughout Summit County, all 22.4 miles of the Towpath Trail managed by Metro Parks, Serving Summit County were temporarily closed after the storm.

A 1.1-mile section between the Memorial Parkway Trailhead (499 Memorial Parkway in Northwest Akron) and the Mustill Store Trailhead (248 Ferndale St., near Downtown Akron) was closed indefinitely due to a serious washout, caused when the Cuyahoga River crested the trail, according to Metro Parks officials. Visitors are not permitted to walk, run or ride bikes on the multipurpose trail during the closure.

Spokesperson Nathan Eppink said the storm damage impacts the park district’s inaugural Summer Biking Spree, a two-month event that promotes cycling on the towpath and the Bike & Hike and Freedom trails, but visitors could still complete the Spree by riding unaffected areas. The event continues through Aug. 31. For more information, call 330-867-5511 or visit www.summitmetroparks.org.

Cleanup tips

Numerous state and local agencies released tips for recovery in the aftermath of the storms.

Ohio Lt. Gov. and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor, a Green resident, advised Ohioans impacted by recent severe weather on how they should attend to damaged property and offered tips on the insurance claim-filing process. Taylor also cautioned residents to beware of fraudulent contractors trying to take advantage of people in need of property repairs.

“Those impacted by recent severe weather should contact their insurance agent immediately to begin the claims process,” Taylor said. “Most homeowners and business policies provide coverage for repairs following hail, tornadoes and windstorms. Consumers experiencing problems during the claims process can contact the Department of Insurance for assistance.”

Taylor added that protection for vehicles against damage caused by windstorms, hail and tornadoes is provided through an auto policy’s “other than collision” or “comprehensive” coverage. The department can be reached at 800-686-1526. The fraud hotline is 800-686-1527. More information can be obtained at www.insurance.ohio.gov. A Storm Recovery Toolkit is available in the Featured Links section.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website (www.epa.gov) provides these tips for flood cleanup and mold and mildew elimination:

√ Remove excess water with mops or wet vacuum.

√ Move wet items to a dry and well-ventilated area or outside to expedite drying. Move rugs and pull up areas of wet carpet as soon as possible.

√ Open closets and cabinets and move furniture away from walls to increase circulation.

√ Run portable fans to increase air circulation. Do not use the home’s central blower if flooding has occurred in it or in any of the ducts.

√ Run dehumidifiers and window air conditioners to lower humidity.

√ If water has soaked inside the walls, it might be necessary to open wall cavities, remove baseboards and/or pry open wall paneling.

√ Spraying with a household disinfectant on fungi and mold will not remove the organisms and can exacerbate breathing problems.

√ Provide ventilation, air circulation near cold surfaces, dehumidification or other methods to minimize the production of moisture in the home and control high humidity that frequently causes mold growth.

After cleaning has removed all visible mold and other soiling from contaminated surfaces, a disinfectant can be used to kill mold that might have been missed by the cleaning. In the case of sewage contamination, disinfection must be performed.

Tax relief available

Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise and Medina County Auditor Michael Kocavk released statements reminding residents that real estate tax relief is available to property owners who have sustained damage in the wake of the recent storms.

Scalise’s office is making available an Application for Valuation Deduction for Destroyed or Damaged Property (Form DTE 26), which can be downloaded from fiscaloffice.summitoh.net/index.php/damaged-property. Mail the completed form to the Fiscal Office at 175 S. Main St., Room 304, Akron, OH 44308. To request that a form be mailed to you, call 330-643-2704.

In Medina County, the form is available at www.medinacountyauditor.org under “Forms.” To have the form mailed, call 330-764-8051.

The amount of the deduction equals a percentage of the reduction in value caused by the damage. That percentage is determined by the calendar quarter in which the damage occurred; the reduction will be 50 percent in value of the destroyed portion.

For property damaged by the July storms, the filing deadline is Dec. 31.

Maria Lindsay contributed to this report.

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