Forecasters from the National Weather Service in Wilmington began predicting last Wednesday’s violent storms a day ahead of time, but stressed the threat of large hail more than heavy rains. By 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21, however, it became clear that Enon’s primary threat was not ice-chunks falling from the sky, but the deluge of water.
Nearly five inches of rain fell on the area in approximately 90 minutes, leaving those in several parts of the Village inundated with almost three feet of standing water. The western portion of Matthews Avenue was among the hardest-hit, leaving two of the Indian Valley Village apartment buildings with water rushing into their homes and vehicles. Homes along Matthews were also damaged by floodwater, as in the following days, hundreds of pounds of ruined furnishings littered front yards. Homeowners on Rebert Pike across from Indian Valley Middle School reported their basements had flooded with wastewater, leaving an unholy mess to clean up.
A motorist in a white van driving west along Matthews found themselves trapped in the vehicle as the floodwaters approached, and honked their horn repeatedly until a bystander from the nearby apartments rescued them.
Patti Habowski said she has lived in her apartment for 12 years, and has never seen flooding to this extent. Habowski’s front patio was littered with cornstalks and other debris from the cornfield across the street, and she said that while the floodwaters rose up to the threshold of her door, none of it made its way inside her home. Jamie Mowell, Habowski’s neighbor, was not so fortunate. He said his concrete patio is set lower in the ground than the rest of his neighbors’, so the water easily found its way inside his apartment, leaving a portion of his carpet saturated with muddy floodwater.
Matthews Avenue residents took the scene in stride Wednesday evening, as several broke out their rafts and kayaks to tool up and down the flooded street. One man even paddled an inflatable raft down the street with a snow shovel, seemingly oblivious to the excitement around him. Neighbors went out of their way to assist one another as the waters quickly encroached upon their homes and driveways, lending parking spaces and dry shoes to each other as they surveyed the damage.
Christy Cates of Enon said the floodwaters washed away two young pigs that her children cared for as a 4-H project. The pigs were housed behind the Holiday Valley neighborhood, which did not flood until late Wednesday night after Cates and the kids had already checked on them after the storm. Cates said her family is heartbroken, as her children Andrew, Emmett, and Morgan walked the two piglets every day after school. She said she is desperate to find the pigs, even if their bodies are found, as she is seeking closure. One pig was solid black, the other, black and white, and anyone who may have seen the pigs may contact this newspaper with information.
The flow of the flood had many residents asking if the recent clearing of Mud Run in the Stine Road development plans had created the never-before seen flooding in the area. Mad River Township Fire Chief Tracy Young said while he was purely speculating at this point, that it did seem likely that the removal of vegetation from the stream bank had contributed to the flood. “It just seems like common sense to me that if you remove all the vegetation from the banks and there is any sort of grade to the area at all, that the water is going to follow the path of least-resistance,” said Young. “I’m not an engineer, but if you strip a land like that, you’re going to end up with a lot of water.”
Young said that the amount of rain received was enough to constitute flooding, but that he suspects the clearing of Mud Run yielded an even higher level of standing water in the surrounding areas. He said he even believed it possible that the driver of the white van on Matthews Avenue would not have become stranded had the banks of Mud Run not been cleared, but that he could not say with certainty.
“It’s hard to determine whether or not the project on Stine Road contributed to this mess, but it’s hard to discount it as well,” said Young, who added that surveys of the gradients in the area would be able to determine if the recent clearing contributed to the Matthews Avenue flooding.
Mad River Township Trustee Kathy Estep said she was thankful to have such qualified and dependable Fire and EMS personnel in the township, as well as a dedicated Road Crew that worked all throughout the night blocking off roads, erecting signs, and tending to public safety.
Estep said she has lived in the township for 50 years and has never seen the level of flooding that last week’s heavy rains brought to the area. She said cleaning up after the storm will also come at a cost to the township in the form of manpower and equipment hours.