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Published: Monday, 2/28/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Flooding forces Level 3 emergency warning in Hancock County

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN AND MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

A green SUV is stuck in a water swollen ditch on southbound I-75 just south of State Rt. 613. According to The Ohio Highway Patrol, the driver hydroplaned off of the road into the ditch at about 4 a.m. Monday.  No one was seriously injured. A green SUV is stuck in a water swollen ditch on southbound I-75 just south of State Rt. 613. According to The Ohio Highway Patrol, the driver hydroplaned off of the road into the ditch at about 4 a.m. Monday. No one was seriously injured.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo
FINDLAY — Roadways along the Blanchard River and Eagle Creek in Hancock County are closed to all but emergency traffic because of flooding that safety officials say could be as bad as the serious flooding of February, 2008.

Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman issued the weather emergency at 10 a.m. Monday.

"Most roadways are closed and extremely hazardous/flooded," the sheriff said in a news release. "Employees should comply with workplace policies or contact their employer. Violators may be cited."

Under a Level 3, roads are closed to all but emergency personnel. No one should be out unless it is absolutely necessary to travel.

Based on what the National Weather Service is saying to them, local officials are expecting conditions similar to the February, 2008, flood. During that episode the Blanchard River crested at 16 and a half feet, which is the predicted crest currently. They expect the river to crest in Findlay about 9 a.m. Tuesday.

City officials say north-south streets will likely become impassable, except for I-75. To prepare for that situation, the city will have police, fire, and emergency medical services stationed on both sides of the river to ensure that they are able to respond.

Fndlay Safety Director Jim Barker said the American Red Cross will an emergency shelter open at 3 p.m. Monday at the Center on Aging, 339 East Melrose Ave.

Mr. Barker said that the city's emergency call center is open for any resident with questions about flooding, at 419-424-7000.

In Putnam County, the village of Ottawa was preparing for the Blanchard River to crest at a predicted 27 feet by Wednesday — several feet shy of the devastating August, 2007, flood, when the river topped off at 31.7 feet. Community Development Director Jeff Loehrke said the river typically crests in Ottawa about 14 hours after it crests in Findlay.

"We do know that the west side of our town will flood, which it always does, and we are making sandbags available to those people," he said. "We maintain 5,000 to 10,000 [sand bags] already made up. We'll bring those out by the pallets at specific locations throughout town, and we have another 10,000 bags ready to be filled.... We don't want to get too excited but yet we want to be vigilant."

The Hancock County Sheriff's Office and the Ohio Department of Transportation are continually updating a list of closed roads. For example, at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, the sheriff's department said I-75 from the 164 mile post to the 161 mile post, both north and south bound lanes, as well as I-75 at milepost 140, was closed.

In Seneca County, the Sandusky River was at 5.6 feet in Tiffin on Monday morning, which is about a half-foot higher than the 5.1-foot level predicted by the National Weather service, said Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc., a private forecasting service in State College, Pa. The flood level of 8 feet was expected to be reached Tuesday morning, he said.

In Sandusky County, water in Eagle Creek on Monday morning was at about 10 feet, about a foot over the flood level of 9 feet. It was expected to crest at 11.4 feet Monday afternoon, Mr. Kines said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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