CUYAHOGA FALLS: Mike Hammonds struggled to get a deep breath as he said a silent prayer to God: spare him and his wife.
Hammonds was in the basement of the family’s Dwight Street home in Cuyahoga Falls during Monday night’s storm when the walls of the basement began to collapse.
The basement quickly filled with water, trapping him and his wife, Michaelann.
As water rapidly approached the ceiling and the couple struggled for air, their children watched on in horror from the top of the steps.
“It was the single scariest moment of my life,” Hammonds said. “I just kept praying. I wasn’t ready to die and not like that.”
After calling the fire department, the children, ages 9, 12 and 13, ran to a neighbor’s home crying for help.
Various neighbors sprang into action and, using axes and other tools, cut holes in the floor of the first level of the house to free the couple.
“There’s definitely going to be some post-traumatic stress after this for [me and Michaelann] as well as the kids,” Hammonds said. “They witnessed themselves almost becoming orphans. You don’t just get over that.”
Hammonds said the city is not sure whether the house will be deemed repairable.
“Everything’s gone,” he said.
Michealann Hammonds said there already has been an outpouring of support from the family’s neighbors and the Redeemer Lutheran Church.
“The neighbors took care of us until the fire department arrived,” she said. “And our pastor has already contacted us, as well as several other people we go to church with. We’re lucky to have our lives and this support.”
Much like the Hammonds, the Skowrons of Leewood Drive in Stow also faced a terrifying situation involving their basement Monday night.
While Darlene Skowrons’ oldest son was on a trip to California, his basement room began flooding.
She rushed downstairs in a bid to save some of his belongings. Water rushed into the room, trapping her.
“There wasn’t anywhere for me to go,” Skowrons said. “I was calling for my husband [Michael], and he ended up having to carry me out of the basement. I think it scared all of us to death.”
Skowrons’ younger son, 14, was forced to stand at the top of the steps and watch as the water rose higher and higher in the basement.
“He’s definitely still in a little bit of shock,” Skowrons said.
The family’s swimming pool also filled with murky water from the storm.
“The water was flowing at our house like a raging river,” Skowrons said. “The basement is covered in the mud from it and God knows what else.”
Other families in the neighborhood fared slightly better.
Mary Ann Brazelton, of Greentree Road, suffered damage to a shed.
The flooding caused it to tilt sideways as well as weaken the family’s deck.
“We’re trying to put Quick Crete in with the posts as quickly as humanly possible,” Brazelton said. “Otherwise any rain over the course of the next couple of days could wipe it out.”
Larry Lawrence, also of Greentree Road, lost a retaining wall for his rose bushes as well as the contents of a tool shed that was half-full with water.
“I know that my snowplow and lawn mower have to be filled with water,” Lawrence said. “I’m not ready to look inside yet.”
Katie Nix can be reached at 330 996-3216 or email@example.com.