Flooding uproots Kinsman families

Tribune Chronicle / Andy Gray Austin Mathews points to where the cinder block wall used to be at the house he rents at 6472 Church St., Kinsman. Heavy rains led to a flash flood Saturday morning, causing extensive damage in northern Trumbull County.

KINSMAN — When Nate Weiser went to bed Friday, there was at least 30 feet of backyard separating his house on Lakeview Drive from Kinsman Lake.

By 11 a.m. Saturday, about two feet of ground remained between the structure and the swollen lake, and Weiser and his family, friends and neighbors were loading garbage bags full of belongings into vehicles for fear that further erosion could cause the house to collapse.

Heavy rains early Saturday caused flash floods in northern Trumbull County, washing away a portion of Lakeview Drive and much of the shoreline. The road was the only access route for those living on the east side of the lake, forcing a mandatory evacuation Saturday afternoon.

“The first thing was I smelled gas,” Weiser said.

A natural gas line ran alongside the road and bridge, and it was severed in the flooding. Falling trees snapped utility poles, leaving residents on both sides of the lake with no gas or electricity.

Weiser has lived on the property for three years, but the house was built by his great-grandparents. He said he wasn’t sure, but believed it was built in the 1940s.

He was planning on staying initially with his girlfriend’s family before eventually finding an apartment.

Angelie Yakubik sat on the west side of the lake with Samantha Alford, her co-worker at Combined Tactical Systems in Jamestown, Pa., and worried about her family and her property on the east side.

“I don’t have a car to go to work on Monday,” Yakubik said. “My car is on the other side.”

Alford said they arrived at work at 5 a.m., but Alford and the other supervisors sent everyone home because of the heavy rain. It took about two hours to make the drive from Jamestown to Kinsman because of the weather, and they arrived just before the power lines went down.

“It happened so quick,” Alford said. “One went down, then another and another. There was no way anyone was going to cross (to the east side).”

In addition to the home where the Yakubiks live, they also have two rental properties nearby.

“I’m just worried about the basement,” Yakubik said. “We can’t leave the house with nobody there because there will be no power. There will be flooding in the basement.”

Yakubik’s family was among the first group of evacuees to arrive at Kinsman Presbyterian Church, and her 6-year-old son, Elijah, shouted hello to her when she walked into the church parlor.

Other parts of Kinsman were affected as well. Austin and Lindsey Mathews’ waterlogged belongings were scattered in the backyard of the house they rent at 6472 Church St. after the cinder-block basement wall collapsed in the storm.

“When we woke up the house was completely surrounded by water,” Lindsey Mathews said. “I opened the basement door, and only five steps were not covered with water. It broke the basement window. We called for help, and by that time the cinder blocks in the basement washed in.”

They fled with their daughter, Lilah, who turns 1 next Saturday, to the home of Susan Francis, their pastor at First Presbyterian Church. First Presbyterian and Kinsman United Methodist Church were the initial drop-off points for the evacuees. Several volunteers were at both locations waiting for arrivals, and Francis said others had volunteered to help if needed.

“In a small town like this, everybody pitches in,” she said.

Karen Conklin, executive director of the Lake to River Chapter of Red Cross, agreed.

“What I’ve seen today is a community really coming together to help each other,” she said.

The Red Cross is working with 66 people following the storm damage.

“For the most part, they all had family and places to go,” she said.

The Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County will care for the two cats of an elderly couple until they get settled, Conklin said.