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Plan for flash flooding

On a hot, sunny July day such as this one is expected to be, it can be hard to imagine that water could overtake our homes or vehicles at any moment. Unfortunately, such is the case in Eastern Ohio.

Just one week ago today, soaking rains caused streams in some parts of Belmont County to overrun their banks. Although most of the resulting damage was relatively minor, some people seem to have lost everything. It was even believed for a time that someone might have lost his or her life.

As McMahon Creek, Jug Run, Cumberland Run and other area streams rose, they carried massive amounts of water, mud and debris onto lawns and roads and into basements and even into a few living quarters. In some spots, sections of roadway were washed away or completely inundated with water, making them impassable at least for a while.

This is nothing new for local residents to endure, but that doesn’t make it any less devastating. For those whose homes were knocked from their foundations or filled with water and mud, the recovery process will be long and difficult.

In the Neffs area, a car was washed into a creek – and witnesses believed they heard screams coming from the vehicle. When it was recovered, though, no one was inside. Thankfully, first responders were able to contact the owner and learned that it had not been occupied or in use when it was swept away.

Such incidents are far too common here where steep hillsides channel water into small streams that cannot accommodate it all. That is why it is so important for the people who live here to be prepared for potential flash flooding at all times. And it is crucial for those who are not directly affected to be ready to step in and lend a hand.

As we progress through the summer, make sure you are ready for whatever Mother Nature brings our way. Have an emergency kit ready and a plan of action in place. If you live along a creek, be prepared with an evacuation plan and a meeting place for your family. Drivers should also know what to do when they encounter high water – turn around, don’t drive into it and drown.

If we think ahead, hopefully we can all remain safe throughout the season.

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