ZANESVILLE — Mark Mann has seen flooding of the Muskingum River before, but he never had seen anything like the situation confronting him on Wednesday morning as water inched higher on his house.
Nature's caprice was sending an ice floe down the river, causing a damming effect that sent water over the banks and onto riverside properties.
"It's the worst I've ever seen it," said Mann, adding that the last flood along that portion of the river was in 2005.
Already, about two feet of water had encroached on his house. He was using a sump pump in an effort to empty the house of the water and had pulled damaged furnishings into the yard.
Mann's property lies along Route 666, east of the river and about five miles north of Zanesville.
Just north of his location, ice had topped the Muskingum River dam at Gilbert Station, obscuring it from sight.
Jeffersonian photographer Michael Neilson, who drove north from Interstate 70 to reach the floe, estimated that the jammed ice stretched about two miles in length.
Neilson said the floe was unlike anything he had seen.
"You could hear it moving," he said. "I was about 100 feet from the river and I could hear it moving. It was almost eerie.
"It was making a crunching sound. That's the best way I can describe it. It almost sounded like it was alive."
But the floe wasn't alone as it moved downstream. Littered among the ice chunks were downed trees, 55-gallon oil drums, pipes, remnants of docks and boats torn from their moorings, including a pontoon boat.
Meanwhile, the displaced water encircled parked vehicles and structure after structure — sheds, barns, cottages and a structure that appeared to be an outhouse.
The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh issued a flood advisory for the Zanesville area applicable until 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The service also warned vehicle drivers to beware of flooded roadways, cautioning that most flood deaths occur in vehicles.