Two decades later; 1997 flood memories still vivid Part 2

In this photo provided by Engineer David Hook, Churn Creek Road near Hall Fork in Jefferson Township is completely washed away in the 97 flood.

Informer Exclusive: Part Two

Last week, we reported on the 20th Anniversary of the 1997 Flood in Adams County.  The flood re-shaped communities and our certain parts of the landscape forever.  Adams County Engineer David Hook recounted some of his memories of the flood and what the destruction meant to him.  He was serving as the Deputy Engineer for the County, under Engineer Hart Wallingford at the time.

David Hook and Tom Hackworth with other First Responders in Jefferson Township

According to Hook, the initial flash flooding along Ohio Brush Creek created most of the damage to county and township roads with over 100 bridges being either washed away or significantly damaged beyond their ability to be used.  “Damage estimates were between $30 and $35 million on the county and township road systems,” said Hook.  “Our crews worked 16 to 18 hours per day for over 30 straight days in an effort to restore traffic flow.  Their first time off was Good Friday and Easter.”

Over 1,000 culverts were washed away during the storm.  The county received assistance from federal and state agencies along with help from other Ohio counties.

Granddaughter asks for help  

As our exclusive story was shared far and wide on last week, Heather (Malblanc) Shumacher emailed us and told us her story: “My grandfather was also a victim of the flood in 1997.  He went missing near the 9-mile pull off between Ripley and Aberdeen, and was finally found washed up in the river bank by a truck driver that stopped to relieve himself.  He was found on May 27, 1997, my 18th birthday.  I have always wanted to talk to the fella that found him, I would like to thank him.  He doesn’t know how much being in that place at that time meant to a grieving family, and we finally got the closure we needed.”


Photo courtesy of Christine Henderson

15 – year old remembers horrific day

At the time of the flood, she was only 15 years old, but she will remember that day forever.  “It was terrifying watching the water rise and keep coming to the house, which was about seven hundred feet from the Ohio River”, Maryah “Cole” Garrett recalls.  She watched the water as it made its way up the underpinning of a trailer that was across US Route 52.  “We were trying to pack everything we could from our house and from Grandma Stella’s house next door.  We were lucky that the water didn’t get inside our house, but my Grandma Stella’s house had quite a lot of damage.  We were fortunate, some people lost everything.

For more 1997 flood photos, see page 12 of this week’s Informer. 

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