By Timothy Cox
Mercer Health officials have finally decided on a flood protection plan for the Community Medical Center in Celina.
Officials have been wrestling with the issue for a year, ever since the medical center at 950 S. Main St. reopened following severe flooding over Independence Day weekend in 2003. The building sustained $1.5 million in damage, with Mercer Health losing about $475,000 after state and federal aid payments. The doctors' offices located there had to be relocated to sites in Celina and Coldwater.
The flood mitigation plan approved by the board of governors this week calls for the installation of permanent water barriers around about 80 percent of the building's perimeter. The area without a wall or other permanent fixture would be blocked by sand bags when needed.
Bid specifications will now be completed with construction tentatively set to begin in the spring. Mercer Health officials previously rejected a similar flood wall proposal because the bids exceeded $200,000.
Backflow prevention valves also will be installed on sewer lines to prevent tainted water from backing up into the facility. Much of the damage caused during the 2003 flood was a result of the nearby Beaver Creek overwhelming the sewer system, forcing three inches of tainted water to swamp the medical center. In a separate, but related move, the Board also approved an emergency flood plan for the Community Medical Center. The plan outlines the procedure to follow when a flood is pending and lists resources from which sand and other materials can be obtained.