Cameron Family Safe After Evacuation

Randy Strawn’s basement in Cameron is caked in mud and muck after being flooded by a backed up sewer line during severe storms late Tuesday. Photo by Alan Olson

CAMERON — After being evacuated as a safety precaution from high water Tuesday night, the Ross family was back to business as usual Wednesday as residents here began cleaning up with another hot weekend ahead.

Jonathan and Devon Ross were evacuated Tuesday evening from their High Street home when nearby Upper Grave Creek began swelling. The creek flooded their backyard up to their top porch step. Jonathan Ross said he would have waited the water out in his house had it not been for his family.

“It wasn’t nothing life-threatening, though if we stuck around a bit, it could be,” he said Wednesday after he arrived home with his 4-year-old daughter. “If it weren’t for having two kids, I’d say I’d have chanced it out, but after having some high water rescue training, I’m definitely more scared of water than I am of fire.”

Ross, who is a volunteer firefighter with the Cameron Volunteer Fire Department, took his family to his mother’s house on Cameron Ridge after they were evacuated from their home. The family waded through waist-deep water across a nearby bridge, as fellow volunteers assisted them.

Their home is the lowest in the neighborhood and rests at the bottom of a steep hill. It is accessible by a series of stairs and is adjacent to the creek.

“We’ve got great guys here in town,” Ross said of his fellow volunteers. “It’s like being part of the family. I knew they were here when we were leaving.

“We had a crew of 12 helping us out,” he said. “They really helped us getting over the hill.”

Devon Ross described their daughter as being a brave girl, but several brushes with floods have left her skittish in high water. Their 4-month-old child also accompanied the family on their evacuation.

“We’ve been in the floodwaters so many times, she’s scared to death of it,” Devon Ross said.

Their neighbor, Randy Strawn, had his basement flooded when the creek overflowed its banks and backed up the sewer line installed in his backyard. Muck covered his basement when the water receded, which left him lamenting the future work after he recovers from an illness.

“If I step down in the basement I’ll have to take a shower,” he said. “I’ll get it as soon as I get to feeling better.”

The power outage that accompanied Tuesday’s storm lasted from around 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. It also knocked out Strawn’s oxygen machine, leaving him uncomfortable throughout the night.

The floodwater also closed Cameron Elementary School. The storm left part of the building flooded with muddy water. Custodians worked through the day Wednesday to clean the building with mops, buckets and bleach. They had mostly completed the task by 4 p.m.

“I was walking through here at 5 in the morning, walking through the halls with a flashlight, and it was just, splash, splash, splash,” said custodian Doug McCombs.

“The power was out,” said custodian Phyllis Bonar. “We couldn’t do anything until it came back on around 9 o’clock. We brought a Shop-Vac in, and one of those sweepers that you ride on, and so we had to move all the tables in here.”

The water had flooded the gymnasium, several offices, hallways, the cafeteria and the kitchen, among other parts of the school. Kitchen messes are common, the custodians said, as drains behind the school were prone to flooding and forming puddles on top of the drains. The custodians said the school was set to reopen today.