OTTAWA — Village and Putnam County officials met to discuss the flooding situation in Ottawa and Putnam County at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Ottawa Municipal Building in the Ottawa Village Council Chamber.
Ottawa Municipal Director Jack Williams began the meeting by updating the local officials on the condition of Findlay. In a conversation with Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, he was told main street had been closed due to water levels of 17.5 to 18 feet high, Williams said.
According to the National Weather Service Findlay could get as much as another six inches of water before cresting at 8 a.m. today, said Ottawa Building and Zoning Coordinator Denise Balbaugh.
“The National Weather Service website shows the river was at 22.6 feet as of this morning,” Balbaugh said, adding the Blanchard River will crest at 27.9 feet by Saturday, which will be the tenth highest the river has been historically.
“In the past, 224 closes down at 25.5 feet,” said Gene Hovest of the Flood Mitigation Steering Committee. “65 closes at 26.5 feet. That’s how it always used to be.”
“What we don’t know is how I-9 is going to affect this,” Williams said about the water levels.
“This will be the first real test,” Balbaugh said of the changes made to the road approaching the I-9 bridge in Ottawa.
Sandbags will be available for residents who need them at the village garage by the sewage treatment plant, at the Putnam County Office of Public Safety office and a garage the public safety office owns.
The township sandbags are free to residents Williams said, but they must have need of them.
Emergency Management Director’s Assistant Stephanie Moore said the public safety sandbags are free for the first 20 and 25 cents for each bag after that, but residents must fill the bags themselves. People from other Putnam County villages can collect the EMA sand bags too, she said.
Hovest is concerned with the amount of time the flood waters will remain in Ottawa after the Blanchard crests on Saturday.
“The Auglaize has been flooding for a couple of days now before the Blanchard,” he said. “History teaches us when that happens, it controls the Blanchard’s current. That means this flood water will stick around for awhile.”
Flooding is part of living on a flood plain, Hovest said. It’s not a surprise when it happens, which means it’s something that can be planned for which is why the Putnam County officials hold the flood meetings each time a flood is coming, he explained.
Ottawa Mayor Dean Meyer said the Village of Leipsic has offered to aid Ottawa anyway they could if they should need assistance.
Bluffton — East College Avenue and North Spring Street are closed due to high waters as of 2:14 p.m. Thursday, said Dispatcher Nikki Bartlett of the Bluffton Police Department.
Hancock — The Hancock County Commissioners have stated in a press release they have declared Hancock County is in a State of Emergency as of 2:45 p.m. Thursday.
According to the press release, The Emergency Operations Center has been opened to aid in emergency operations.
Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman put the county on a Level 2 flood advisory meaning roads are hazardous with flood waters and residents should not travel unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Also, according to the release, 50North, 339 E. Melrose Ave., Findlay, will be open 3 to 8 p.m. to help residents affected by the flooding. The Red Cross will be there to hand out flood cleaning kits.