Storm system drenches Ohio

Josh Echt

Hurricane Katrina’s effects felt throughout Kent-Ravenna area

Shirley Prunty, resident of West Park Estates on state Route 59 in Ravenna, points to a line on her siding that marks the peak of flooding that started in the park Tuesday night. Prunty said this is the third time in five years flooding has affected her m

Credit: Steve Schirra

The remnants of Hurricane Katrina doused the Kent-Ravenna area with about three inches of rain yesterday and Tuesday, causing 100 residents of two Ravenna Township mobile home parks to evacuate.

Flooding from a ditch in the middle of a property caused residents of West Park Estates on state Route 59 in Ravenna to leave their mobile homes Tuesday night.

The flooding, which started at about 10 p.m., also affected Pinegate mobile home park on Cleveland Road. Water levels receded around 3 a.m. yesterday.

According to a press release from the Ravenna Township Fire Department, both parks’ residents were able to return to their homes early yesterday morning. The amount of financial damage to the areas affected has not yet been determined.

Resident Ron Prunty said the water rose more than 30 feet from the ditch to his home at West Park Estates. Stagnant water still rests in the front yard, and a line about one foot high on the side of the home marks the peak of the flooding.

Prunty and his wife, Shirley, were evacuated to Brown Middle School in Ravenna, where the Red Cross set up a shelter for displaced residents.

Enrique Monroy, who lives two homes down from Prunty, said she was lucky to be able to stay at her father-in-law’s house.

Ron Prunty said this is the third time in the five years he has lived at his current home that the water has risen from the ditch.

“We’ll never be able to sell it because who wants to buy a trailer that floods?” he said.

The Pruntys’ insurance company said if they file one more claim, they will be dropped from their plan, Shirley Prunty said. Luckily, they avoided major damage this time, she added.

Shirley Prunty said the government told them if the ditch continues to flood, the properties affected will be condemned, and the Prunty’s will be forced to move from the park they have lived in for 25 years.

The ditch was dredged about two years ago, but it fills up fast, Ron Prunty said.

Although the 2005 hurricane dumped considerable rain on the area, the effects of the disaster did not match the May 2004 storms, in which the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared Portage County a federal disaster area, said David Stone, Ravenna city street superintendent.

“We don’t have the problems we had last May,” Stone said. “Everything was already wet last May, whereas it was relatively dry this time.”

Stone said the May 2004 rains drenched the area at a rate of one inch per day for a week.

This year’s downpour tapered off to a drizzle after midnight, allowing the dry ground to absorb the water and buy time for it to recede. All affected roads were re-opened by 3 a.m.

Heavy rains closed six streets in downtown Ravenna, including South Chestnut Street and Lincoln Avenue. The worst flooding occurred on South Chestnut Street at an intersection with railroad tracks. The roadway was submerged under two feet of water, he said.

“The asphalt buckled and it needs to be replaced,” Stone said. “We will repair it as soon as we get some sunshine.”

Ravenna experienced a brief power outage in the southeast quadrant of downtown, but Ohio Edison restored power quickly, Stone said.

Stone said the city is continuing its efforts to improve its sewer system by reprofiling ditches and buying a vacuum jet machine that will clean city sewer pipes.

“The pipe cleaner sprays 60 gallons of water per minute through the water lines,” he said.

Staff reporter Lindsay Wargo contributed to this story.

Contact public affairs reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].