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The Daily



07-07-03: Heavy rains cause local damage
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 Thursday.
    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 injuries reported.
    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 roadways.
    "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 pretty hard."


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The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822