Twenty-five years ago, March came roaring in like a lion, with rains that quickly left Adams County and the surrounding areas flooded and a community overwhelmed. According to the U.S. Department of Interior, rainfall amounts of up to 12 inches produced by thunderstorms during March 1st and 2nd, 1997, resulted in severe flooding throughout eighteen counties in southern Ohio, making them federal and state disaster areas.
Though much of the community healed, if you look closely, you will still find reminders of that horrific March weekend. In the Village of Manchester, you will find numerous FEMA flood mitigated properties, in Blue Creek, you will find areas of road with new embankments. Roads were destroyed in Jefferson Township. The cost estimates of the flood in this area were nearly $180 million.
Record peak stage and streamflow were recorded at U.S. Geological Survey stations on Ohio Brush Creek near West Union that exceeded the estimate of the 100-year-recurrence interval peak stream flow. Ohio Governor George Voinovich visited the area, and quickly dispatched additional members of the Ohio National Guard to assist with clean-up.
First responders worked for days on rescue and clean-up operations, and the body of Jason Hall, 16, of Blue Creek, was discovered near the confluence of Blue Creek and Churn Creek Saturday, March 1st. Jefferson Township firefighters think he was swept away while driving an all-terrain vehicle.
Tom Partin made six trips to the bridge to carry away the six people trapped there. “The thing I remember most are the National Guard troops moving people and their belongings out, we were taken from our homes to the school for shelter and the Red Cross fed us and brought us cots to sleep on,” said Christine Henderson, Councilwoman for the Village of Manchester.
Carol Knauff, a retired Blue Creek business owner recounted the frightful day. “Water had begun to flood my store, there were five people in the store as the water came in. My two employees were rescued by a state truck who managed to get through the waist high water outside and I sat with two of my customers on top of tables praying for the water to recede.” Knauff continued, “It seemed like forever, but the water went down quickly and we opened the doors and the water ran out leaving mud behind.” Carol Knauff said that it was still raining so she left the store in fear the flood would return.
“So many residents of Blue Creek came to help me clean the mud and wash the store equipment and I was so thankful for their help,” said Knauff. “Many residents lost possessions but nothing as tragic as one young man who lost his life…that was so devastating to our community.”