November 23, 2014

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Families rescued from flooding along Vermilion River

The homes along Riverside Drive in Vermilion flooded past the first story of some homes on Saturday due to large amounts of snow melting and rain. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

The homes along Riverside Drive in Vermilion flooded past the first story of some homes on Saturday due to large amounts of snow melting and rain. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

VERMILION — As the Vermilion River continued to crest Saturday, six families who failed to heed evacuation warnings were rescued by the Vermilion Fire Department and other local emergency management agencies.

Fire Chief Chris Stempowski said a text alert was sent out to Vermilion residents at 3:03 p.m. Friday notifying them of an ice jam along the Vermilion River.

The Lorain County Fire Department’s Tech Rescue and Swift Water Rescue teams came together to rescue six people from four houses along Riverside Drive in Vermilion on Saturday morning. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

The Lorain County Fire Department’s Tech Rescue and Swift Water Rescue teams came together to rescue six people from four houses along Riverside Drive in Vermilion on Saturday morning. 

At 11 p.m., the Vermilion River crested, and residents were told to take appropriate precautions.

“By (midnight), Riverside Drive was all under water,” Stempowski said Saturday.

The first rescue call was dispatched at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Rescue boats were used and the residents were treated by EMS and released.

According to Vermilion Mayor Eileen Bulan, all the residents who evacuated sought shelter elsewhere.

Bulan said the American Red Cross has offered its services, as well as Lorain County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Until the waters recede, no one will know the extent of the damage from the flooding, Bulan said. “It’s just a ‘wait and see’ effort,” she said Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon, Riverside Drive remained barricaded and closed. Playgrounds were underwater, noticeable only by monkey bars inches above the water. Traffic slowed on Vermilion Road as motorists tried to catch a glimpse of the flooded street.

While some residents were able to move their vehicles to higher ground, others were water-logged in driveways.

The homes along Riverside Drive in Vermilion flooded past the first story on Saturday.

The homes along Riverside Drive in Vermilion flooded past the first story on Saturday.

Vermilion Road resident Dan Bestor said this is the highest he has seen the river crest in the two years he has lived in his home. His backyard overlooks Riverside Drive.

As Bestor stood on his balcony, he said that while residents of Riverside Drive received alerts of the ice jam at Mill Hollow, no one seemed to believe the flooding would actually happen until it was too late.

“The people in that green house down there, they had to be evacuated this morning,” Bestor said, pointing to a home on Riverside Drive.

Bestor said everyone on the river helps each other when Mother Nature wreaks havoc.

Earlier in the day, Bestor offered his driveway as a place where neighbors could store vehicles. He tied a neighbor’s boat to a post before it could be swept away by the fast-moving waters.

Items saved from floodwaters include vintage cars, which were parked on high ground for safety Saturday.

Items saved from floodwaters include vintage cars, which were parked on high ground for safety Saturday.

But for one resident and his wife, protecting their family’s property was more important than evacuating. On Saturday evening, Larry and Clare Uebbing remained inside their home on Riverside Drive.

“We are pretty used to it and the water is not in the house … because I built it that way. Now, the garage has water in it,” Larry Uebbing said.

When asked why he and his wife did not evacuate, Larry Uebbing had one answer: “I stayed to protect my property.”

According to the National Weather Service in Cleveland, at 5 p.m. Saturday, the flood stage was 15.5 feet.

“The river is being impacted by two ice jams. One is located along the railroad bridge in Vermilion and the second is located at Mill Hollow,” the National Weather Service stated in a press release.

The river will continue to fluctuate over the next 24 to 48 hours due to the ice jam.

According to the NWS, more property could be impacted and damaged should the ice jam break.

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7243 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com.


  • Ca

    Why does the govt always have to take care or these people who choose to live by the rivers? They knew there was a flood warning, they were told to eveacuate, they made a conscience decision to stay in their home and ignore the warnings! So why did the fire dept have to risk there lives and taxayer dollars because these people chose not to leave there homes? Then who do you think is going to have to pay to repair these homes when they call it a state of emergency? How many times have these homes been repaired by the tax payers before? The taxpayers have probably paid over and over for all of these homes to be fixed because of flood waters!

    • teeky

      I agree….thats a well noted flood area.why do people think that these homes are built high up in the air for…dah!!

  • teeky

    I personally believe, living in this area for 30+ years, that these people know the conditions where they live. If evac. alerts issued, whether mandatory or suggestive, if the people choose to stay its on them. I believe they should be billed for the cost of their rescue. if a senior citizen 65+ involved, special circumstances could be noted. I’m so exhausted as a taxpayer to constantly support other peoples costly issues.

    • Tom

      Yes, please take this scenario that happens once every 5, 10, 30 years and complain about the misuse of tax money. Forget the people that go to the hospital without healthcare, the corporations that pay zero in taxes and the government contracts that pay billions for them to do nothing. Who do you think pays for all of that? There’s obviously a system that allowed them to build there. Stop blaming individual people and try and fix the system. Maybe those flood areas should be overtaken by the metroparks or something. Stop complaining and do something.

      • Pablo Jones

        The point is if it happens only once every 5, 10, or 30 years ago it is a known issue and they can expect that it will happen again. If you invite someone into your home and every time they steal from you but you keep inviting them back the issue is on you not the person stealing.

        People have tried to stop people from building in flood areas. They tried to keep people from building in the lower 9th ward in new orleans because it was a low flood plain. But those people were label racists.

      • teeky

        the other issues you mentioned were not being discusses here therefore i dont feel i was in neglect not mentioning them