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Region braces for flooding issues


August 24. 2013 6:06AM
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OTTAWA — Minor flooding was expected in Ottawa tonight, but the bigger concern for Economic Development Director Jeff Loehrke is the snow that replaced the rain.“We're gearing up for that,” he said late Tuesday afternoon at his office as village workers gathered to get a game plan.Forecast of as much as 3 inches of accumulating snow in parts of the region led the Mercer Count Sheriff's Office to issue a winter weather advisory until 8 a.m. today.Van Wert Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy said the heaviest local snow runs along a line from Van Wert to Findlay. As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, Van Wert had received 1.5 inches of snow, McCoy said, with another 1 to 1.5 inches expected by morning. The forecast called for Lima to get about an inch of snow. Areas around Fort Wayne, Ind., got upwards of 5 inches.The snow cut off the rain, but what already fell was worrying folks along local rivers.With the Blanchard River expected to crest around 24 feet, Loehrke said a few residential streets may be closed, but U.S. Route 224 and state Route 65 are safe up to 25 feet.At the bank of the river on Oak Street, Ottawa Feed and Grain has been flooded a few times.General Manager Elaine Niese can point to a watermark three feet high showing how high it got in 2007. It stayed that high for a day and a half.When rain clouds gather, she keeps a wary eye for rising water.“Every time it rains. Every time they call for Hancock County to be at flood stage, we look at the river,” she said.After dealing with three floods in the 28 years she's worked there, Niese knows which way the water flows.“It doesn't come from the river. You'd think it would. It comes down Second Street then goes back toward the river,” she said. “We know when it starts coming in, we know where we've got to start worrying about.”She doesn't just worry about water at work. She said she lives in the “flooding part” of Columbus Grove. She said she's frustrated that all the effort at flood mitigation for the Blanchard has been limited to talk at this point.Loehrke feels the same.“It's frustrating that it's taking this long for the studies to be completed. It's hard to understand what they have left to study,” he said. “Here we are still looking at another year or two before we can do something.”If the village does any clearing or cleaning of the river before a federal plan is in place, it cannot count that expenditure as part of it's local contribution to the larger project. A village delegation to Washington, D.C., earlier this month was lobbying to change that rule. Here's an overview of the weather service's river flood information:•Auglaize River at Fort Jennings: As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, the level was 12.15 feet. Flood stage is 13 feet. The river is forecasted to rise to 14.3 feet by 9 p.m. Thursday. The river is expected to drop below flood stage around 7 a.m. Friday.•Blanchard River at Ottawa: As of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, the level was 22.5 feet. Flood stage is 23 feet. The river is expected to rise above flood stage this morning and crest near 23.9 feet around 7 a.m. Friday. The river is expected to fall below flood stage around 1 p.m. Friday.•Blanchard River at Findlay: As of 9 p.m., the level was 11.67 feet. Flood stage is 11 feet. The river is expected to rise above major stage and crest near 12.6 feet by 1 p.m. today. The river is expected to drop below flood stage sometime early Friday.






Region braces for flooding issues


Region braces for flooding issues


Region braces for flooding issues


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