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More storms hit Midwest; 1,000 residents displaced

August 24, 2007|From Times Wire Services

CHICAGO — A fresh round of thunderstorms battered parts of the Midwest for a fifth day Thursday as the region battled deadly floods that drove more than 1,000 people from their homes.

A wave of storms hit the Chicago area just before the evening rush hour, stranding children in schools, toppling dozens of trees, snarling train commutes, and knocking flower boxes and barbecue grills off downtown high-rise balconies.

O'Hare International Airport was closed for a time after its control tower was evacuated when tornado warnings were issued.

No deaths were reported, but damage was widespread.

About 40 people were injured in a roof collapse in an industrial area in West Chicago, but none of the injuries was life-threatening, authorities said.

In one Ohio county, more than 700 homes were severely damaged or destroyed by flooding, Gov. Ted Strickland said.

"This is a major, major disaster," Strickland said. "We'll do everything we can to help people get back on their feet, but this is going to take some time."

Every downtown street and many neighborhoods in Findlay, Ohio, were underwater as the Blanchard River topped 7 feet above flood stage, its highest level since 1913.

As the water began to recede Thursday afternoon, many residents returned to their waterlogged homes.

Peeking into her basement in Findlay, Gail Leatherman didn't break down until she saw a soggy photograph of her and her husband, taken for their 17th wedding anniversary. She salvaged the picture, but not her treasured Christmas decorations.

And that wasn't the worst of it.

"A year ago, our insurer told us we could drop our flood insurance," Leatherman said. "So we did."

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