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Published: Tuesday, 12/24/2013 - Updated: 8 months ago

BLANCHARD RIVER

Ottawa, Findlay wait for flooding to subside

Water levels fall slowly; some roads still blocked

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Flood water engulfs the street in front of 337 Wilson St. in Findlay. Flood water engulfs the street in front of 337 Wilson St. in Findlay.
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OTTAWA, Ohio — The Blanchard River continued to slowly drain out of this waterlogged village on Tuesday, delaying the ability of downtown business owners and residents to get back into their buildings.

The Blanchard’s high-water mark of 28.85 feet at 10 a.m. Monday was Ottawa’s 6th worst flood on record, though a little over a foot short of what officials consider a major flood.

PHOTO GALLERY: Findlay flooding

The water receded enough that Ottawa Presbyterian Church planned to go ahead with its Christmas Eve Worship Service at 8:30 p.m.

“I’m very pleased that we can have a service,” said Pastor Lynn Bova, hours before the service was to start. “I’m hoping everybody can be there. It may be that some folks still have some issues.”

Ms. Bova of Perrysburg, who is a temporary pastor while the church searches for a permanent pastor, said the church itself was not flooded. She said the organist got the furnace going Tuesday morning.

“We’re a block up from the main street. The main street this morning didn’t have water. The businesses did, in their basements and ductwork. That’s going to be pretty devastating for them,” Ms. Bova said.

As of the middle of the day, two main roads that cross in Ottawa — U.S. 224 and State Rt. 65 — were still not passable in the downtown, according to Steven Odenweller, coordinator of the Putnam County Office of Public Safety.

“The river’s coming down but very, very slowly. A lot of it is to do with cold weather,” Mr. Odenweller said.

The mark set Monday surpassed the previous sixth-highest flood level of 28.72 feet recorded on March 9, 2009.

Officials consider 23 feet to be flood stage and 30 feet to be major flood stage.

Mr. Odenweller said all the businesses in the downtown were affected by the flooding, and a few people were put up in area motels by the American Red Cross. He estimated 20 to 30 homes have had water damage.

Ottawa, with a population of about 4,400, is 63 miles southeast of Toledo.

The Blanchard River flooded downtown Findlay to the east of Ottawa in Hancock County after the river crested at 3:30 a.m. Monday at about 15.37 feet — about 2 feet above major flood stage. Eleven feet is flood stage.

As of 3 p.m., the river was down to 10.52 feet in Findlay. Normal flow level is about 2 feet.

As of late afternoon Tuesday, East Main Cross was still impassable.

Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik said the extent of damage, other than two houses known to have major damage, will be better known after people start coming in to city offices to get permits to make repairs.

The flooding was caused by deluges on Saturday and Sunday, including 2.72 inches that fell on Findlay.

As of 2011, the city had purchased and razed 57 flood-prone houses with nearly $2.8 million in state and federal funds and nearly $453,000 in local funds.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.



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