Disaster News Network

CHICAGO - Residents across the Midwest continued cleaning up and assessing damage the last week of August after nearly a week of heavy rains swamped the region, causing flooding and widespread power outages.

The storms pummeled Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. At least 12 storm-related deaths have been reported across the Midwest and thousands of homes have been flooded.

Flood warnings were in place Sunday, Aug. 26, for at least eight counties in Ohio. Similar warnings were downgraded to small stream advisories for several areas in Illinois and Indiana as creeks and rivers continued to recede.

In Michigan, residents in Eaton County were also assessing damages after a tornado Aug. 24 destroyed 12 homes and damaged 17 others. Five people were reported injured. Several other tornadoes were reported to have touched down in the state.

In Ohio, volunteers were being sought to assist in cleanup efforts in the northern part of the state after severe flooding inundated the area, the Ohio Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) has announced.

As many as 30 towns in Ohio were affected by flooding, according to Gov. Ted Strickland, who spent the last days of August visiting the hard-hit communities. Strickland has declared a state of emergency for Hancock, Allen, Crawford, Hardin, Putnam, Richland, Seneca, Van Wert and Wyandot counties. He said a federal disaster declaration would be requested.

Mary Woodward, chairman of the Ohio VOAD, said volunteers will be needed to help thousands of affected residents in nine Ohio counties clean up after historic flooding. Donations of cleaning supplies and money are also needed.

The city of Findlay in Hancock County experienced its worst flooding since 1913, officials said. Other towns in northern Ohio were also hard hit, including Shelby, Ottawa, Bucyrus and Mansfield.

Woodward said the Ohio VOAD was responding to those in need as well as helping conduct damage assessments.

In southeastern Minnesota, 4,200 homes were flooded in a six-county area, according to estimates from the American Red Cross and state Department of Emergency Management. They reported 256 homes were destroyed and another 338 had major damage. Some 475 other homes remained inaccessible.

FEMA representatives and state officials were in Minnesota and Wisconsin conducting preliminary damage estimates. Three FEMA disaster recovery centers opened Aug. 27 in Winona, Fillmore and Houston counties.

A state of emergency was declared for six counties in Minnesota and for 12 counties in Wisconsin. Federal aid was being sought and President Bush issued federal disaster declarations for five counties in Wisconsin - Crawford, La Crosse, Richland, Sauk and Vernon.

Nechama Jewish Disaster Response deployed clean-up volunteers to Stockton, Minn., in late August and worked with United Methodist Church volunteers and local United Methodist pastors. An American Red Cross worker in Eyota, Minn., said that 97 percent of the homes in that small Olmsted County town were affected by the flooding. Eyota has a population of about 1,700 residents.

Donations for flood disaster relief can be given through any local United Methodist Church to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and designated to Domestic Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #901670. Receive an offering in your congregation and designate it for the area you wish (such as Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc.) Send the offering to your conference treasurer.