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'I couldn't believe it:' Ohio family shocked by unsettling scene in front of brand new home

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
June 20, 2019, 1:21:57 PM EDT

Family stranded by washed out driveway

The Dowey family stands at the edge of their driveway that was carried away with heavy flash flooding. (WJW/FOX/ABC News)

Numerous Ohio cities have been hit hard by heavy flooding, including Green and Clinton. Several rounds of very heavy rain have struck much of southern and central Ohio.

"Summit and Stark are two such counties that have seen quite a bit of rain over the last several days. Between 5 and 6 inches of rain have fallen over the past eight days,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio.

In Summit County, over two dozen residents have been forced to evacuate due to rising floodwaters. Other local residents face more unexpected problems as a result of the heavy floodwaters.

In the city of Green, located in Summit County, the Dowey family remains trapped in their home as severe flash flooding swept away their driveway. The family, with three young children, moved to their home on East Nimisila Road six weeks ago. A reporter from FOX8 Cleveland traveled to the family's home on Tuesday and interviewed the Dowey family across what looks like a moat in front of the house.

A flash flood alert woke the couple up the night before at 4:00 a.m, but according to Kayla Dowey, the couple "didn't really think much of it."

It was not until her husband, Cory Dowey, went to leave for work at 7:30 a.m. that they noticed the problem. Cory quickly realized that he was stuck.

"The water level was the highest I've ever seen it. There's normally a small creek that runs under the driveway, where there's a culvert pipe," Cory said. However, due to heavy rainfall, the scenic stream that is intended to run under their driveway, instead ran through their driveway.

By 9:00 a.m, the flooding had washed away the whole rest of their driveway. More big chunks kept falling in as the water carried it away. As of Tuesday, there was a 30-foot long sinkhole between their house and East Nimisila Road. It's 15 feet deep and continues to grow.

"I was just in disbelief, like I couldn't, I couldn't believe it. I didn't think that'd ever be a problem," Cory said. "Mother Nature is amazing. The power the water has and the tremendous pressure."

Because their driveway is on private property, the city cannot help restore the driveway. Their insurance company told them that their policy covers damage to their home, not their driveway. Replacing the bridge and preventing another collapse will cost the family more than $20,000.

The family created a GoFundMe campaign to help fund the new bridge.

"Before, you know, you could drive a semi truck across it," Cory said describing how wide the bridge was before it collapsed. He gestured that the bridge expanded over to the road where the news team stood. "And we had flowers planted along here. And now, now it's gone."

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About 10 miles away in Clinton, also located in Summit County, heavy floodwaters inundated the town early this week. Clinton Mayor Al Knack told Cleveland WEWS-TV that this is the worst flooding the town has seen in years.

"I've not seen it this way that bad," Knack said of the flooding in downtown Clinton, adding that "1977 was a bad flood. 1969 was a bad flood. I've seen it close the roads, but not to this magnitude."

Knack said on Tuesday that more overnight rainfall brought water levels 2 to 3 feet deep on part of Main Street. It's 6 to 8 feet deep on North Street.

Videos capture residents kayaking through the flooded streets of the city, cars struggling to navigate on flooded streets and signs drowning in water. Picnic tables and a pavilion at a local park, Elizabeth Park, are blanketed by the floodwaters.

Clinton, Ohio, flood 6-18-2019

The high floodwaters have forced about 25 people out of their homes or businesses. Many of these evacuees will likely return to flooded basements.

"My main concern is safety for our residents and business people on both sides of the river," Knack said.

Local officials and residents are taking proactive steps as rain persists. Local firefighters are on standby to move all of the trucks to higher ground if the water invades the building. The flooding is only a few feet from the fire department.

Widespread showers and thunderstorms will extend across the region through Thursday.

"There will be a small dry stretch Friday and this weekend, but more rain will return early week," Rossio said.

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