|07-07-03: Heavy rains cause local damage
|By SHELLEY GRIESHOP,
SEAN RICE and LANCE MIHM
The Daily Standard
The heavy rains during the weekend caused many road closings, power
outages and flooded basements throughout the Grand Lake St. Marys area.
A portion of a bridge and roadway were washed away on Township Line
Road near Rockford this morning, said Mike Borns of the Mercer County Engineer's office.
The roadway was immediately closed to traffic north of U.S. 33 and will "stay that
way indefinitely," said Borns, operations manager.
"We sure as hell don't need any more rain," he told The Daily
Standard this morning after hearing weather forecasts predicting more storms through
Borns said crews from the engineer's office were busy this morning
trying to clear debris, which was piling up underneath several bridges. One such area was
along Wabash Road where logs and tree limbs accumulated and were blocking the flow of the
Wabash River, sending water over the bridge.
Borns said his crews won't be able to determine if there has been
permanent damage to any bridge culverts until the water recedes.
At press time today, portions of Ohio 707, Ohio 117 and U.S. 33 in
northern Mercer County were closed. More than a dozen workers were out trying to keep
vehicles from driving down the flooded roads.
Mercer County crews closed Ohio 81 into Willshire early today after
water began flowing over a bridge into the village. Van Wert County officials said the
village of Willshire was nearly impossible to enter or leave this morning as the St. Marys
River left its banks.
The Celina Police Department reported a couple of city streets still
were under more than a foot of water early this morning. Chief Dave Slusser said in a news
release that at least six vehicles had been stranded in high water, although there were no
Celina Safety Service Director Mike Sovinski said no amount of
preparation could have eliminated the flooding.
"This has been an unprecedented amount of rain in a short amount
of time. In the 30 years I've been with the city, I've never seen anything like
this," Sovinski said, adding that he has heard the same comment from residents living
in Celina more than 50 years.
Celina's sewer plant took on millions of gallons more than it could
handle this weekend.
The typical daily flow of sewage treated each day at the sewer plant is
2 million gallons. On Friday the amount treated was 7 million gallons. Saturday it was
12.5 million gallons, and Sunday it was 11 million gallons.
When the plant is inundated with rainwater, some wastewater does not
get treated and passes right past the plant's treatment systems. On Friday, 3 million
gallons bypassed the plant and went straight into Beaver Creek. On Saturday, 8 million
gallons went through the back door, and Sunday nearly 4 million gallons of wastewater went
into Beaver Creek.
Sovinski said the Celina Fire Department went around shutting off power
to some homes where the water level in the basement nearly reached the power boxes. City
crews also spent hours pumping out the former power station known as "the blue
goose." Water there rose and nearly submerged large power switching equipment.
The Mercer County Department of Jobs and Family Service was closed
today, following the flooding of their offices in the Central Services Building in Celina.
Director Dale Borger this morning said there was standing water and
soggy carpet in the basement offices. The offices will open as soon as the water is
removed and cleaned up.
Montezuma Village Council member Randy Garman said streets were very
flooded there, with three inches of rain falling in 25 minutes on Saturday. Houses were
flooded and the volunteer fire department was assisting residents pumping out basements.
Gary Kuck of the Auglaize County Engineer's office said the western
edge of Auglaize County also was hit with heavy rainstorms, which led to water over many
"We completely ran out of our 150 high water signs," Kuck
said. "We are down to using cones now."
St. Marys City Engineer Steve Opperman estimated the St. Marys river is
up about 13 feet from normal as of this morning.
"At least there has been no major damage," Opperman said of
Auglaize County. "We have a lot of street flooding locally and there are a lot of
sewers backed up. We are trying to pump them out and keep up."
Opperman estimated these have about 6 1/2 to 7 inches of rain fell
during the holiday weekend in St. Marys.
A few streets were closed in Minster as of this morning, but currently,
there are no streets closed in New Bremen.
"We mainly have been getting a lot of calls about flooded
basements," Minster Village Administrator Don Harrod said.
Dayton Power & Light crews have worked around the clock since the
first storm hit the area Friday, according to Tom Tatham, communications manager.
"These have been the worse storms we've seen in the area since
July 1997," Tatham said. "We're fighting some pretty tough elements."
More than 70,000 DP&L customers were affected throughout Ohio since
Friday - 27,000 of those are from Mercer, Auglaize, Logan, Union and Shelby counties, he
said. About 1,400 customers were out of power yet this morning in the northern region.
"We've immobilized crews from Kentucky and West Virginia as well
as electrical contractors in the area," Tatham said. "Mother Nature has hit us
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