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The Daily



07-19-03: Celina couple getting ready to leave ruined home
The Daily Standard

    Junie and Zina Godfrey sit side by side in a porch swing at their 430 W. Livingston St. home, oblivious to the familiar noise emanating from the grain elevator next door and the musty smell lingering in the wake of recent flooding.
    They have come to savor good memories, confront bad ones and say goodbye before moving to higher ground.
    "I thought we would live here 'til we die," Junie Godfrey says as her husband nods in silent agreement. "We weathered high water before, but the last round of flooding has done us in. There's no more fight left in either of us."
    Water invaded the pale green frame house twice on the Independence Day weekend - the latest incidents in a string of flooding problems the couple has endured over the years.
    Zelda Zizelman of Celina, the couple's daughter, waded through waist-high floodwater to check the place on July 4. The home and several parked cars looked as if they had been plunked down in th  middle of a lake. The water was less than 2 inches from the front bedroom window and up to the steering wheels of the vehicles. It came halfway up the large console television and fouled everything from carpeting and furniture to shoes and packaged food products. Other relatives quickly showed up to help salvage items from the home, garage and two outdoor storage buildings.
    "We grabbed up all mom's pictures and spread them out to dry in the upstairs bedrooms," she said. "Pictures of us eight kids growing up, Daddy's old Army pictures, pictures of  ancestors - those are the kinds of things you can't replace."
    The Godfreys, who had been camping with relatives in Wapakoneta, did not return to the house that night. Their children and grandchildren wanted to spare them the heartbreaking scene. Instead, they took up temporary residence at the home of daugher Theresa Houston.
    The water gradually receded and the family worked tirelessly, trying to reclaim the soggy interior before bringing the owners back July 6 to sort through clothing and personal belongings. Zino Godfrey, an 80-year-old retired coal miner battling lung problems, leaned heavily on a sturdy cane as he slowly walked across the porch to the patio door. His 72-year-old wife brought up the rear wheeling her trusty green oxygen tank.
    "I knew what waited over yonder through the door, but it still came as a shock," she said quietly. "The odor was so bad I could hardly breathe, even with the oxygen. Everything we worked for and saved for is pretty well ruined."
    More rain fell, dampening not only the saturated yard but the mood of those working inside. The water rose higher this time, coming up through the floor boards and threatening everything lower than 3 feet.
    "It all happened in a matter of 20 to 25 minutes," Zizelman says. "The grandsons carried Mom and Dad out to higher ground. Considering their age and health problems, I have no doubt my parents would not have escaped alive if they had been alone. No one but family came to their aid."
    The Godfreys are no strangers to flooding. Water occasionally lapped around the porch of their mobile home near the R. Bailey Lake in Wyoming County, W. Va., although it never once dampened the interior carpeting. The government finally purchased numerous parcels of land, including theirs, to build a dam to alleviate flooding in the area.
    "We came to Celina more than 30 years ago and bought this house for $7,500," Junie Godfrey said. "Oh my, it didn't look anything like this. The place didn't even have an electrical outlet. The previous owners took off and the radiators froze to pieces."
    They replaced the asbestos shingles, drafty windows and electrical wiring in the two-story home. Black shutters, three porches and lots of colorful flowers improved the exterior and earned compliments from passersby.
    Working as a team, the Godfreys lowered the nine-foot ceilings, installed ceiling tiles, covered room after room of dingy wallpaper with new paneling and added wooden trim throughout. Finishing touches included new carpeting, kitchen appliances, furniture, window treatments and wall decorations.
    Their property, located in a low area bordered on two sides by the Mercer Landmark elevator, flooded numerous times over the years. In July 1994 and June 1999, water covered the porch floors and flirted with the top of the foundation. Family members sought the help of city officials in rectifying drainage problems, but little has been done due to budget constraints. As for the latest incidents, dealing with more than a foot of water in a span of several days is more than any storm sewer can handle.
    "Each time we would mop up, dry out and go on," she says. "Wood floors can only take so much wetness. These last two times were the final blow. What didn't heave up, sank down."
    Their 1994 Aerostar van, 1979 Lincoln Continental and 1997 Crown Victoria were total losses. The couple had no insurance on a 1986 Pontiac Trans Am, having received the title just four days before. The shiny red car had been "the pride and joy" of a son who died of a heart attack two years ago.
    Tears well in her eyes at the mention of insurance coverage on the home and contents.
    "We paid insurance premiums for 30 years only to discover flooding is an act of God the company doesn't cover. Pardon my language, but our insurance isn't worth a damn in this case. It would have been a different story if the place had burned to the ground," she said.
    The Godfreys are unsure at this point what will happen to their house, which still has a small mortgage. They are moving to a  rented a place on Wild Cherry Avenue.
    "The land is high and dry there, so we don't have to worry about floating away," she said. "My kids can finally rest easy when the rain falls, and so can we."


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The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822