Coverage Of The 2008 Flood

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Several days of heavy rain were expected to taper off Thursday, but authorities warned that rivers across the state would crest well above flood stages, causing further worries for residents already dealing with submerged roads and swamped homes.

The impact on Wednesday was felt across the state by homeowners, drivers and emergency officials alike as recent massive snowfalls mixed with the rain and sent people scrambling for higher ground.

Much of the state was under a flood warning Wednesday, with some areas cautioned to watch for flash floods. Most of southwest Ohio had received in excess of 4 inches of rain, and officials in Butler County declared a state of emergency because of the rising waters.

Authorities in neighboring Hamilton County's Whitewater Township said a 65-year-old woman who died early Wednesday apparently drowned after checking on her home's sump pump.

The Ohio River at Cincinnati was expected to rise about 2 feet above flood stage by Friday.

Whitewater Township Fire Lt. Jim Davis said rescue workers with boats helped 16 people to safety and urged 40 to 45 more families to leave their homes "so we wouldn't have to come back for them later."

Judy Booth, who's lived in a low-lying area of the township for 11 years, said Wednesday was the first time she's had to flee from flooding.

"You don't have no choice, you've got to go," said Booth, who was helped by fire-rescue squads who brought an inflatable boat for her to her water-surrounded home.

Officials had feared a crest on the Little Miami River of 28 feet - 11 feet above flood stage. But by mid-afternoon, the river had begun to recede after cresting around 24 feet, said Frank Young, emergency management director in Warren County.

"It looks like we caught a break," Young said.

However, rescue workers were busy helping people out of cars swamped by the flooding.

"The biggest problem has been people driving into floodwater," Young said. "There are a lot of stupid people. When that sign says, 'Road closed, high water,' that's what it means."

In the northern Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville, water as high as 4 feet stood outside some businesses, and police contacted owners and warned them not to open for the day.

Across the region, municipal officials said hundreds of homeowners had reported flooded basements.

Residents in South Lebanon were told to leave the town where the Little Miami River was expected to crest at 28 feet, 11 feet above flood stage and the third highest level since measurements began in 1889, said Young.

"That would put half of South Lebanon under water," Young said.

Mandatory evacuation notices were not issued, he said. "They're used to it. They live along the river," Young said.

High water closed sections of key roads in one eastern Ohio county, canceling school and causing some residents to leave their homes while sections of roads leading to Interstate 75 were shut down in Cincinnati, where more than 3 inches of rain fell.

Many areas of Ohio were under flood watches, with several major rivers and streams expected to spill over their banks in the coming days. As much as 20 inches of snow had fallen on parts of the state earlier in the month.

The storm moving through Ohio dumped up to 10 inches of rain in Missouri and forced hundreds of people to flee their homes across a wide swath of the nation's midsection. At least seven people were killed or missing, none in Ohio.

In the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville, water as high as 4 feet was reported at several businesses, a police dispatcher said.

Police contacted at least nine businesses and warned them not to open Wednesday.

In Symmes Township, northeast of Cincinnati, members of a cross country team were rescued from a rain-swollen creek Tuesday night.

Firefighters pulled two teenage girls from the water and helped four other runners stranded on the other side.

The Ohio River at Cincinnati was expected to rise about 2 feet above flood stage by Friday.

Flash flood warnings were issued for Hamilton, Butler and Warren counties, meaning rapid rising of water was imminent in normally dry areas. The Little Miami River and the Great Miami River were expected to hit flood stage, including about 10 feet above flood level at Miamitown by evening.

And the flooding is not just contained to the Tri-State. Scroll down to see flooding video from areas such as Missouri and Arkansas.

Information from The Associated Press and staff