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Torrential rains batter struggling Ohio community

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Liz Dufour/The Cincinnati Enquirer/AP

(Read caption) Jeff Downing, walks around his property in Ripley, Ohio, Sunday. Mr. Downing's mobile home had previously been in the foreground where the bricks are prior to a late evening flash flood. The flood swept away a mobile home late Saturday, killing three members of a family of six huddling for safety inside, authorities said.

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A weekend of torrential rains turned a usually shallow and docile river into a raging flood that devastated a mobile home community in a small village in southern Ohio, killing two children and a pregnant woman.

The Red Oak Creek in Brown County is barely ankle deep most days, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported, but a sudden downpour on Saturday night saw the creek overflow its banks and tear through the small village of Ripley, 50 miles southeast of Cincinnati, home to about 1,750 people.

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About four inches of rain fell in a matter of hours in Brown County – more rain than the area typically gets in the entire month of July, according to the National Weather Service.

Judith Varnau, the Brown County coroner, identified the woman as Victoria Kennard. Two of Ms. Kennard’s children – 7-year-old Gabriel Barrios and 5-year-old Rosa Barrios – were also killed when their mobile home was swept away in the torrent.

Kennard’s fiancé, Marco Barrios, was rescued with their two other sons. Jeff Downing, Kennard’s half-brother, lived next door on land their parents had moved onto in 1987. His smaller mobile home was pushed into a neighboring house during the flood, but Mr. Downing wasn’t at home at the time. When he did return, he found the high water mark more than four feet above the ground. He told the Enquirer the home will have to be torn down. 

“They were really good parents,” he told The Associated Press. “They were just trying to make it like everybody else.”

Wade Linville was home when the flood hit. He was trapped in his house with his wife, Sharon, for an hour as the waters rose and covered their driveway. He told the Enquirer he watched as a neighbors’ mobile home was torn from its foundation, split in half, and carried into the woods by the floodwater.

“It was up in an instant,” he said of the waters. “There was nothing they could do.”

This report includes material from the Associated Press.