As the rains lashed West Toledo Friday, the churning brown waters of Shantee Creek rushed past the homes on Crawford Avenue toward the culvert underneath Laskey Road.
Gradually, the water rose above the culvert opening and backed up into the creek bed along Crawford.
If not for the city's frantic construction of a sandbag dike and the operation of three temporary pumps, the water might have flowed into the basements of dozens of homes on Crawford for the fourth time in less than a month.
Bob Williams, director of the city's department of public utilities, agreed that the pipes and culverts that carry portions of Shantee Creek eastward to Lake Erie were overwhelmed by the four storms that occurred since June 21.
"I would say that the culvert wasn't able to handle a 150-year storm," Mr. Williams said.
Officials yesterday continued to try to understand why Toledo's drainage system was unable to contain the storm, and what short and long-term improvements should be made.
Mr. Williams said the biggest factor in the flooding was that the repeated rainfalls left the ground saturated. Officials also have said Toledo is paying the price for sprawl - the development of rooftops, parking lots, and streets that have replaced the fields that once absorbed rainfall.
Lucas County was declared eligible for state and federal disaster assistance for the June 21-23 flood. State Sen. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) said she has asked that the state and federal disaster declarations be expanded to include the effects of the July 4, 12, and 14 rains.
The senator said the state and federal assistance could take some of the burden off county and city officials.
The flooding generated claims of assistance from 2,591 Lucas County residents to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Abbey Mortemore, executive assistant to Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the county commissioners.
Mr. Williams said the flooding emergency exposed the weakest spots in the city's network of drainage ditches, culverts, and tiles. "We intend to move those weak points up to the top of the list to be resolved," he said.
Ironically, the city already had designed an expansion of Shantee Creek set to be put out for bids for construction this year. The estimated $2.8-million project would add an enclosed pipe to divert much of the water from the open creek behind Crawford.
Mr. Williams said the plans will be reviewed to determine if the culverts under Laskey are big enough to handle future storms.
The public utilities director proposed a series of short-term solutions in case of renewed flooding. Those solutions included continued clearing of ditches and sewers, and leaving pumps and sandbags in place.
Areas identified as experiencing flooding were:
●Gilhouse Road and Sulgrave Drive off Flanders and Laskey roads.
●Poinsetta and Burnham avenues, west of Bennett and Laskey roads.
●Florita Road, Longwood Drive, and Birdie Drive near Reynolds Corners.
●Medford and Pickford drives in the Beverly area of South Toledo.
●Drummond Road in Old Orchard, between Elmhurst and Kingsmoor drives.
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