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Flooding Of Ohio River Forces Hundreds Out Of Their Homes

Flooding on the Ohio River forced hundreds of people from their homes Sunday, while residents of flooded towns upstream in Pennsylvania and upstate New York scraped mud from soaked homes and historical monuments.

The past week’s burst of flooding, snow, ice and cold had been blamed for at least 36 deaths from the Plains into New England. In upstate New York, five members of one family died when a washed-out road sent their car into a reservoir.

“It’s just a big puddle of soup,” said Tami Taylor of Harrisburg, Pa., whose 13-story apartment building was closed by floodwaters. “It looks like there’s 10 feet of water in there, at least.”

Officials in many areas had not yet fully measured the damage.

President Clinton on Sunday declared Pennsylvania a disaster area because of the flooding.

The Ohio River crested Sunday at several spots along West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle.

Wheeling Island, a low-lying, urban enclave of some 3,500 residents connected by bridge to Wheeling, W.Va., was 95 percent under water as the Ohio rose 10 feet out of its banks before beginning to recede. About 700 people fled the island.

Downstream, the Ohio was 3 feet above flood level Sunday at Parkersburg, W.Va., forcing more people from their homes, and it was expected to rise an additional 3 feet. Flood gates were closed in levees protecting Parkersburg, Huntington and other cities along the river.

On the river’s opposite bank, about 3,000 people had been evacuated in eastern Ohio’s Belmont and Jefferson counties.

Flooding had largely abated and cleanup was under way Sunday elsewhere in West Virginia and in much of Pennsylvania, the western edge of New Jersey and New York state. An estimated 100,000 residents of


This sidebar appeared with the story: WEATHER-RELATED DEATHS Georgia: One, traffic death. Maryland: One, traffic death. Kansas: Two, ice fishermen whose bodies were found Saturday. Minnesota: Six. Missouri: Four, three in traffic and one drowned after falling through ice. Nebraska: Two, hypothermia. New York: Nine, including five drownings after road collapse. Pennsylvania: Ten dead in flooding. Tennessee: One, hypothermia. Vermont: One, drowning. Virginia: Four, drownings. West Virginia: Two, drownings. Associated Press

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