NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Dozens of angry, frustrated homeowners fired salvo after salvo at city officials during Monday night’s City Council meeting, telling them they are tired of years of floodwaters, damage, uninsured losses and no answers following last week’s devastating floods.
Council members and city administrators heard from close to 30 people during an extended 90-minute public comment session at the start of the meeting.
More than 75 people offered thunderous applause and cheers as they listened in the packed council chambers to a succession of speakers demand answers as well as a moratorium on new home building. Several speakers threatened no support for future local tax issues until solutions are found.
Others, like Barb Sutton of Gina Drive, held up a laminated copy of a May 26, 1989, Chronicle-Telegram front-page story about flooding woes in North Ridgeville.
“Nothing has changed, nothing has gotten better,” Sutton said before the meeting as she and others discussed the situation.
During the meeting, Sutton got a loud burst of applause when she said, “I don’t care about Center Ridge Road.”
Sutton referred to the much-discussed $51.7 million widening of Center Ridge Road, for which voters rejected an $8 million bond issue two week ago.
Another man told officials, “It will be darn hard to get a tax levy passed until we get this addressed.”
“Every levy that comes up will get a ‘no’ from me,” said a third resident.
A number of homeowners — some hoarse and ill after battling the lingering effects of flood-soaked homes for a week — said they had to scramble to seek temporary housing for sick children.
One was Mindy Powers, whose Gina Drive home has flooded three times since 2008.
“I have a chronically ill 5-year-old,” Powers said, her voice shaking. “The city owes me a home. This has ruined my life. You need to do something and do something now.”
Council President Kevin Corcoran repeated pleas to keep aisles clear during the standing-room-only session.
Paul Mylonas, a Dana Place homeowner, asked whether council members and others would be willing to trade their homes for the heavily damaged homes of residents.
“You need to put everything else on hold and make this a priority,” Mylonas said. “If not, it’s going to speak volumes about your inability to govern this city.”
One Gina Drive woman spoke of living in a home that “has absolutely no value left.”
“I have no choice but to stay,” she said. “No one would touch our homes now.”
Another, whose voice could barely be heard due in part to a tracheotomy, pleaded with local legislators for aid.
“What’s it gonna take for you guys to help us?” she said.
Bob Pemberton of Debbie Drive is among hundreds who have been through multiple floods over the years. He asked how many council members “got out and walked and talked to residents?”
Corcoran and Dennis Boose, D-2nd Ward, raised their hands in response.
Jeff Rogerson, a Broad Boulevard homeowner, said flooding over the years has cost him and his insurance company $80,000, “which is more than the house is worth.”
Following a brief intermission during which most people left, Mayor David Gillock said, “Everyone has a right to be upset and to be heard,” adding “we get the message.”
The city recorded six inches of rainfall in an hour last Monday, Gillock said, and Mills Creek, which caused serious flooding to a number of Mills Creek Lane condos, rose to a height of 17 feet at one point, Gillock said.
Some condo residents had to be evacuated by boats manned by firefighters and rescue personnel.
City hall registered about 300 calls from residents last week who reported varying degrees of flood damage, Gillock said.
The city is working with the Lorain County Emergency Management Agency to determine whether the city will qualify for state and federal financial assistance with a disaster declaration.
Safety-Service Director Jeffry Armburster termed last week’s flooding the most devastating the city has seen since 1979.