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Published: Wednesday, 2/16/2005

Pemberville, Grand Rapids will evaluate flood response, cleanup


The villages of Pemberville and Grand Rapids - two of the areas hit hardest by last month's floods - are looking ahead to final cleanup measures and evaluating how to cope better with floods.

The downtown business district in Pemberville was flooded on Jan. 13 when the Portage River overflowed. More than 200 volunteers tried to hold back the river with 18,000 sandbags filled with nearly 300 tons of sand and stone.

Mayor James Opelt said the flood cost the village about $7,000 for sandbags, water pumps, large trash receptacles, and overtime for safety services personnel.

The village provided several huge trash receptacles for residents to dispose of their damaged property.

"People dumped everything from furnaces to washers and dryers, furniture, and carpets," Mr. Opelt said.

He said downtown businesses are mostly up and running, but a few homes got more than $15,000 in damage. Most of the damage to houses will be covered by insurance, but village residents have contributed several hundred dollars to a disaster relief fund at Union Bank, 132 East Front St.

The money in the disaster relief fund will be distributed to applicants with flood damage that was not covered by insurance.

Pemberville officials are planning to hold a meeting Monday at 7 p.m. to hear what residents thought about the flood response. Mr. Opelt said the village wants to hear compliments and complaints so officials can decide how to deal with flooding.

Local businesses are planning to hold an event next month to recognize volunteers who helped during the flooding and cleanup.

For now, the piles of sandbags along the river near the business district are the most visible reminder of the flood.

"We'll keep the sandbags up for a while in anticipation of a spring thaw," Mr. Opelt said.

In Grand Rapids, it was a swelling Maumee River that soaked homes and businesses on Jan. 14. The river reached over 19 feet and poured over the old canal dike.

"Everyone is pretty well back to normal now," Mayor Judy Keifer said.

The main issue for the village in the flood's aftermath is examining the dike and deciding whether it needs repairs.

"We've had reports that it's pretty thin in some places," Ms. Keifer said. "We're not sure yet what we'll need to do."

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