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The Daily



07-10-03: Grand Lake spillway OK, lake official says

The Daily Standard
    Rainfall totals for Mercer County the last five days are off the charts < literally.
    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 said.
    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 said.
    "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 not.
    "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 stability."
    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.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
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The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822