Locals talk flooding and storms
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 12:00 AM
Representatives of FEMA and Ohio EMA personnel met with local officials to discuss how to alleviate future weather-related losses in the area. (Submitted photo)
VAN WERT — Floods and tornadoes were the main topics of discussion Tuesday when representatives of FEMA and Ohio EMA personnel met with local officials at the Van Wert County Emergency Management Agency. The group discussed past weather-related disasters that have affected the county and its political sub-divisions and what future mitigation projects may help to alleviate future storm losses.
According to Van Wert County EMA Director Rick McCoy, the county’s mitigation plan was just completed and sent to FEMA for review. The plan addressed some key points about tornadoes and flooding that needed to be reviewed.
Discussion first centered around the St. Marys and the Auglaize River which are known for having flooding issues. Cathleen Miller, local flood plain manager, and the County Engineer’s Office stressed that the flood plain maps of the county need to be updated by FEMA as the last maps were created in the middle 1970s and are very much out of date.
Willshire Fire Chief Dwight Sheets suggested that ODOT develop a plan to use when state routes are flooded and closed. Willshire Township Trustee Tim Hamrick, and Willshire Mayor Amos Stauffer suggested that FEMA work with Ohio and Indiana in an attempt to get maintenance and the removal of log jams from the St. Marys River. County Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger stated that flooding issues have clearly increased over time, causing more flooding events where ditches can’t handle the amount of rainfall. Other communities present to discuss flooding issues included the City of Van Wert, the City of Delphos, the Village of Ohio City and Village of Middle Point. It was also noted that funding sources need to be found to pre-position sand bags in the county’s flooding areas.
The discussion also included covered severe wind events and particularly tornadoes. Few shelters exist today because buildings are now locked, compared to years past when there was no fear of locking doors for security reasons. The group suggested that our communities continue to look for grant dollars to build community safe rooms and to designate emergency shelter areas. The discussion also covered outdoor warning sirens and the need to pursue grants to upgrade or add more sirens in our communities. FEMA will be using a private contractor who was also in attendance at the meeting to prioritize all of the points addressed and put together a fact sheet of the county’s needs.