WEST LAFAYETTE, Ohio (WCMH) — Last month, during the night of June 18-19 around 11 p.m., the skies opened up for the second time in less than 12 hours over southeastern Coshocton County, unleashing three inches of rain in an hour.
Area rain gauges registered as much as 7 inches in 12 hours.
Rob McMasters, Coshocton County Emergency Management Director, said the first call for help came around midnight from Lafayette Mills Apartments in West Lafayette, where 75 residents were quickly rescued from rising water that had surrounded the complex.
West Lafayette Fire Department, Three Rivers Fire District, and the Coshocton County EMA and Sheriff’s Office were quickly dispatched. All of the residents reached higher ground safely, but still cannot return to their homes while the repairs continue.
More than 100 homes were impacted by the flooding that caused at least 10 basements to partially collapse from the water pressure.
Pastor Matthew Anderson, with West Lafayette United Methodist Church, praised the community for assisting displaced residents in town and surrounding areas through financial donations on Friday’s Day of Caring.
The pastor called the event a “devastating flood. The amount of rain we had that night was absolutely incredible.”
“We raised around $40,000 on Friday, with the first $20,000 being matching funds from the Coshocton Foundation Johnson Fund,” for a total community contribution of $60.000, said Anderson.
EMA Director Rob McMasters described the scene early on the morning of June 19, when water lapped against the front door of Ridgewood Middle School, but he said floodwater did not advance into the school. The situation was worse a few blocks away, however.
“Houses on down the block received 3 to 5, even 6 feet of water in their basements, totally filling their basements to the floor joists,” said McMasters. He calculated that 4.6 square miles were flooded on June 19, amounting to a staggering 89 billion gallons of water.
Tom Lahna woke up in the middle of the night to rising water that reached the top of his basement, high enough to reflect light when he opened the door at 3:30 in the morning.
The water around his Johnson Road home was too deep to escape until the afternoon. The damage was worse than he and his family originally thought.
“When we could finally get out of the house, we came around and found the wall had been blown completely in,” said Lahna.
The Rev. Anderson was relieved to see the outpouring of financial donations from the community, which was matched by a grant from the Coshocton Foundation.
“Folks in our congregation and community are hurting. So our local radio station — WTNS — put together a Day of Caring for us. West Lafayette and surrounding communities are strong,” he said.
Lahna agreed. “The people in this community have been amazing. They come and helped us clean everything out. They brought in heavy equipment and did the digging for us.”