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Rain In Ohio Forces Evacuations

Police rescued children from a flooding in a day care center and helped dozens of people to evacuate homes after nine inches of rain filled rivers and flooded streets in northeast Ohio.

Officials declared a state of emergency Friday in Lake County, east of Cleveland, as rain continued to pelt the region. As much as nine inches had fallen Thursday and early Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Coast Guard crew were out in boats Friday morning searching for a man who disappeared while moving equipment out of high water near the swollen Chagrin River, an outlet to Lake Erie, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Schofield.

"We're assuming he went into the river," Eastlake Fire Lt. Mike Pandy said. He said the man's family owned part of a marina.

Officials opened Eastlake's City Hall as a temporary shelter for residents who were forced from their homes by flooding. By Friday morning, 50 to 70 people had been evacuated from Eastlake homes near the flood-prone Chagrin River.

In Painesville, rising water forced the evacuation of four streets, according to Lake County Administrator Kenneth R. Gauntner Jr. He estimated 100 people had been evacuated countywide.

Several storms have pounded the state over the past month, wreaking havoc on riverside homes and low-lying neighborhoods.

The Grand River was already four feet above flood stage in Painesville early Friday and expected to rise another foot, according to the weather service. In Willoughby, the Chagrin River was 2½ feet above flood and also expected to rise.

In nearby Mentor, police helped remove more than 100 children from Ridge Pointe Child Care Center on Thursday as waist-deep water flooding the parking lot began seeping into the building.

Children were pulled through windows and bused to a nearby fire station, where their parents picked them up.

"It was the most organized chaos I have ever seen," said Tonja Schleicher, owner of the day care center. "Some of the kids were a little upset, so we just hugged them a little tighter."

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