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Published: Wednesday, 2/20/2008

Flood causes known, fix-up money short

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Pemberville officials say floods in the village are becoming more severe and more frequent, but even though they know the causes, the village can't afford to pay for the solutions.

Mayor James Opelt said the Portage River crested at more than 14 feet during this month's flood, which he said was as severe as the village's 1950 flood.

"We now know this was definitely worse than the flood of 2005," he said. "That flood damaged about 25 to 30 homes. This flood damaged about 60."

Pemberville only has about 500 homes in the village. It didn't start collecting data on flood-damaged homes until 2005, the mayor said.

"I just think we had more water this time than we had in the past," he said.

The mayor also commissioned a flood committee in 2005 to discuss the flooding problems and come up with solutions.

Eric Campbell, committee chairman and village council member, said Pemberville sits on a downhill slope of a hill that originates between Bowling Green and Fostoria.

Technological advancements in farming irrigation systems have resulted in less water being absorbed by the ground and more runoff water flowing down that hill, he said.

"The elevation increases dramatically from where we are," he said. "We're at the wrong end of the mill race."

Two of the most frequently flooded residential areas in

Pemberville are near bridges on Bierley Avenue and Bridge Street.

Mr. Campbell said those bridges cross the river at a height of about 13 feet and when floodwaters crest near 14 feet, the bridges impede the flow of water, making flooding more severe.

"The Bridge Street bridge was so buried in the water, it was cresting like a hill behind it and shooting as a torrent almost as high as the concrete sidewalk," he said about the most recent flood.

Mr. Campbell said village officials have talked with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood management division, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Wood County Engineer's Office about doing studies to determine solutions to Pemberville's flood problem.

He said any one of those studies, however, would cost the village as much as $500,000, which it can't afford.

"We run the village on an almost paycheck-to-paycheck basis," he said.

The village's flood committee, which meets as needed throughout the year, will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the village hall, 115 Main St.

The meeting, which is open to the public, was scheduled well before this month's flood, and Mr. Campbell said recent events will likely lead to many frustrated flood victims attending.

"We expect people to come and give their two cents on the flood," he said.


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