The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

July 7, 2013

Geneva residents pick up pieces week after flood

Star Beacon

GENEVA — A week after two feet of water swamped parts of the Deerfield Apartments, residents are trying to put their lives back together.

In the early morning hours of June 29 apartment residents awoke to find water pouring into their apartments as a nearby creek swelled its banks and came into the low lying area on the south side of Route 20.

“It was up over my knees,” said Maggie Schaeffer who lost almost all her possessions and has lived at the apartment complex for six years.

She sad she got out of her apartment only to find that her cat was still inside. “I had to tear the screen out to get my cat,” Schaeffer said.

Schaeffer said she went back into the apartment to rescue the cat that then dived off the futon into the water. “The fire department was yelling at me because they hadn’t turned off the power,” she said.

“I lost everything,” she said while sitting on a chair with a small amount of items that were salvageable.

“I was working at my computer when it happened,” said Ed Roman who noticed a trickle of water in his bathroom around 5:15 a.m. Then things got crazy.

“We had two or two-and-a-half minutes and it was up to the windows,” he said.

Another resident, who asked to remain nameless, was sleeping on a chair and his feet slipped into cold water. He said he went around the complex knocking on doors so people would be aware of the danger.

“I lost my bed. I’m sleeping on a chair,” he said.

Residents and Deerfield Apartment Manager Peggy Anastasia said The Ashtabula County Chapter of the American Red Cross provided food vouchers and several days of lodging at an area hotel.

Some residents expressed frustration at the difficulty in finding help beyond several days lodging.

Roman and Anastasia said Assumption Church provided several extra days of lodging for those effected by the flooding.

Anastasia said Catholic Charities also was involved and wanted to thank all the agencies that helped.

Neighbors have become closer during the difficult times and at least one area Good Samaritan was helping folks restock their homes with furniture.

“It has kind of made us all closer,” Roman said. He works in a Painesville restaurant and has been going from yard sale to yard sale finding deals on furniture and other items needed to live.

“I have no where to go but here. I’m sleeping on the kitchen floor,” he said.

The volume of water that quickly spread through the complex caught Roman and other residents by surprise. “It was something you’d see on the Weather Channel,” he said.

Residents have been working all week filling up two large Dumpsters with their possessions. Roman said he lost 10 years of tax records and many items of sentimental value.

Roman said some residents have significant medical issues. “Some of them are on oxygen,” he said.

Robert Weekly, who has lived at the complex for several years, said he lost a 32-inch television and a lot of other “stuff.”

Anastasia said all the carpeting was pulled from the apartments and everything was disinfected. “The owners have been fantastic,” she said.

Anastasia said all the apartments will be re-tiled, but it could take six to eight weeks to complete the job. She also said the fire and police departments were very helpful and city officials even opened up Council Chambers for those who had no place to stay on June 29.

“It was sad. I was tearing up. They are good people (the residents),” she said.

Anastasia said anyone interested in donating items to help the residents can contact her at 466-4656.

“We’ve got good people and good owners. It’s just a matter of time,” she said.