07-10-03: Grand Lake spillway OK, lake
|By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
The Daily Standard
Rainfall totals for Mercer County the last five days are off the charts
The National Weather Service (NWS) radar estimation shows Mercer County
received in excess of 15 inches of rain since the Fourth of July. The "in
excess" part is undeterminable because the NWS scale image equipment doesn't go any
higher than 15 inches for five-day rainfall totals.
"This is obviously very unusual for rainfall amounts to be this
high in such a short period," said NWS Meteorologist Jeffrey Sites. "Your totals
have hit our equipment's maximums."
Sites said Mercer County received another 1-2 inches of rain overnight
Tuesday through this morning.
And Mother Nature isn't done with us yet. Scattered showers and
thunderstorms are predicted today and Thursday. A cold front will move in Thursday evening
and bring with it more thunderstorms and likely heavy rainfall, Sites said.
The good news is Friday and Saturday look dry, clear and rain-free. The
cold front will push away the air mass that has stalled in our area and bring temperature
highs in the 70s Friday and 80s Saturday.
Despite rumors circulating around the county, the lake spillway along
West Bank Road is without leaks or holes and handling the excess water well, Grand Lake
St. Marys State Park Assistant Manager Brian Miller said this morning.
"I'm not sure how the rumor got started, but it's not true, the
spillway is doing what it was designed to do," Miller said.
The lake level is up two feet, meaning about 24 inches of water is
currently pouring over the lower notch of the center of the spillway, Miller said.
Approximately 13 inches is flowing across the higher portion on the sides, he added.
Miller emphasized the control gates, two 60-inch pipes under the
bridge, are closed and will remain closed.
"Some people in Indiana and downstream of the Beaver (Creek) think
the pipes are open and they're not," he said. "It's Mother Nature. The spillway
was built in 1997, and this is the first time it's really been tested."
Miller asked boat owners to keep an eye on their boats and other
watercraft. He advises boats be loosely tied for less bouncing on docks and recommends
pumping boats out frequently when they begin to fill up with water. A few have sunk, he
Mercer County Engineer Jim Wiechart this morning said there are three
main bridge/culvert problems in Mercer County that his office is aware of.
A bridge and approaching roadway on Township Line Road, one half mile
south of the Van Wert County Line, were washed away and are closed indefinitely, Wiechart
"Although it's a small bridge, this will be costly and take some
time to repair," he said.
The edge of a culvert on Ross Road in Union Township, northwest of
Mendon, also was washed away, but the road is currently open, he said.
A 15-inch tile on Oregon Road has a wash hole in it near the edge of
the pavement, and Wiechart said he was not sure if the road was still passable today or
"There's a lot of berm being washed away right now, but I'm
surprised how little surface damage has been done so far," he said. "I expect a
lot more bridges and culverts will get washed out before this is all over. We won't know
the whole story until some of the water goes down."
Wiechart said there is likely going to be a lot of structure damage to
bridges from rocks and soil being washed away beneath them "undermining their
Wiechart said his crews are placing high water marks at bridges where
Beaver Creek and the Wabash River crosses to help in future bridge replacements.
Karl Kaiser of the Mercer County Emergency Management office said this
morning he is working on getting state assistance for clean-up for residents and
businesses. Cleaning up the debris left by the flooding will be a "monumental
task," he said.
"We're also looking for more potential evacuations around the area
as more rain is expected to fall," Kaiser said.
A shelter was opened during the weekend at a church in Rockford on Ohio
118 where more than 30 people headed Sunday evening. Kaiser said he's not sure how many
people are using the shelter now but he is considering opening one in Celina.
Cash donations are currently being accepted by the Mercer County unit
of the Red Cross which is operating the Rockford shelter. Checks should be earmarked for
the Mercer County Disaster Fund.
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