Flash Flooding Sweeps Through Central Ohio

Flash flooding swept through central Ohio Friday following severe thunderstorms in the early morning hours.

The floods occurred after record rainfall in Columbus, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington: "Columbus has set a record for rainfall for the date 03/20. 2.88 inches have already fallen, breaking the previous record of 1.60 inches set in 1984."

The flash flooding led to surreal video footage of the damage to State Route 79 that runs through Licking County, just east of Columbus. The Ohio Department of Transportation shared the damage to the road in a video via Twitter: "This is the current situation in SR 79 in Licking County. ODOT is assisting the City of Heath with this road closure. Road is closed north of James Parkway."

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office tweeted a video of a person whose car was submerged due the flooding. The individual can be seen sitting on top of the car awaiting help. "Scenes like this are happening all over the county," read the tweet. "Deputies are taking priority calls and are making every effort to respond as quickly as possible. Please be careful today."

Sergeant James Fuqua of the Columbus Police Department recorded a message to detail the damage the flash flooding caused in the city, including that the person whose vehicle was submerged was rescued safely. "I'm standing in the middle of Frank Road," he said. "We are just west of Interstate 71...As you can see here, the road is extremely flooded...Further in the distance you can see the vehicle that is down there that was submerged into the water. Thankfully, Franklin County engineers were successfully able to rescue the person safely, so they are okay. But again, we are just cautioning everyone out there to please be safe."

CPD also took to twitter to announce road closures due to flooding: "I-71 north and south closed between I-270 and I-70 due to flooding and water rescues."

The National Weather Service offered further warnings to the area: "The South Fork Licking River below I-70 near Buckeye Lake is now forecast to go into moderate flood by Saturday morning. At stages near 881.5 feet, water covers eastbound lanes of I-70 near route 79, likely shutting down eastbound interstate traffic."

Ohio is already dealing with the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic. According to the state's Department of Health website, there have been169 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including one death, in the state as of Friday.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther declared a state of emergency for the city Wednesday, which among other measures requires 1,300 city workers to remain home.

"Seventy-four percent of our employees work on the front line -- police, fire, public health nurses, utility plant operators, refuse collectors, just to name a few. They will continue to work, and the critical city services delivered by these dedicated men and women will continue," Ginther said during the announcement.

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