CINCINNATI (AP) — Flooding swamped more roadways and basements Friday along the Ohio River. And though some Clinton County basements have collected a lot of water, so far the county seems to have been mostly spared from flooding — even in areas that are traditionally hit hard by heavy rains.
NWS forecaster Kristen Cassady in Wilmington said multiple factors are contributing, starting with steady rains, heavy at times, projected through Saturday night.
“We continue to be concerned,” she said. “This pattern has been one that has created repeated rounds of rain.”
Cold winter ground and lack of vegetation this time of year don’t allow soaking up much rainfall, she said.
Mike Jones, Director of the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency, said that as of around noon Friday there were no reports of any major flooding, although “water is rising and some creeks are almost out of their banks.”
Clinton County Engineer Jeff Linkous told the News Journal that the county had closed a few roads Friday, including Wise Road between Swartz and Webertown roads as well as a portion of Swartz Road. At the time they also had high-water signs up at Hales Branch between Cochran and Jonesboro roads.
Linkous said the county “knows which areas we can have trouble with and we keep an eye on those.”
Sabina Mayor Dean Hawk said Friday that village officials were “watching things really close” given the town’s history of high-water issues. But he said a lot of the recent rainfall missed the town, so things were looking pretty good.
Also helping matters, the mayor said, is the village’s recent removal of most of a big ash tree that had fallen in Wilson Creek, an obstruction that had been damming up a portion of a ditch.
“We can stand a good bit of rain right now if it doesn’t come all at once,” said Hawk. People somewhat south of Sabina are worse off than Sabina as of mid-day Friday, Hawk said.
Harry McVey, the superintendent of Wilmington’s wastewater treatment plant, told the News Journal Friday afternoon they only received one major overflow report, which was at the landfill gate involving a couple of manhole covers.
He said plant employees are on the lookout for any other overflows and if anyone in town sees one to call them at 937-382-2413.
Forecasters are calling for more rain throughout Saturday before we finally get a break Sunday with a partly sunny day.
River highest in 20+ years
Forecasters expected the Ohio River to reach levels not seen since the region’s deadly 1997 floods.
The National Weather Service said the river topped 56 feet early Friday in the Cincinnati area, 4 feet above flood stage. Forecasters expect it to reach 59.4 feet by Tuesday morning. That would be the highest since 64.7 feet during 1997 floods that claimed more than two dozen lives, most of them in Kentucky.
Friday morning commutes were slowed by accidents, stranded vehicles and closed roadways that forced detours, especially east of downtown Cincinnati. Forecasters warned people living along rivers, streams and creeks in southern Ohio, southeast Indiana and northern Kentucky to be especially cautious and prepared for rapid rises.
Forecasters expect significant flooding over the next few days, leaving much of Ohio Route 52 covered with water from Cincinnati to New Richmond, Ohio, more than 20 miles to the southeast; widespread basement flooding in low-lying areas, and high water in the Coney Island amusement park and at Riverbend concert venues.
Forecasters were also monitoring conditions at the Scioto River, Great Miami and other river areas.
The Ohio National Guard said Friday it activated some 40 soldiers from the 1191st Engineering Company to raise floodgates along the Ohio River in Portsmouth, Ohio, and work with Scioto County emergency management and the city flood division. Several of the soldiers live and work in Portsmouth, more than 100 miles southeast of Cincinnati.
Farther east along the river, the city of East Liverpool, Ohio, advised people living in flood-prone areas to find another place to stay by Sunday night, WYTV reported. The small city is some 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
Flooding across Midwest
Shelters were open to assist people forced from their homes by flooding in Indiana and Michigan on Thursday, as rivers swollen by heavy rain and melting snow continue to rise in the Midwest.
Flood warnings were in effect across a wide swath of the central and southern U.S., from Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio to Texas and Louisiana. The American Red Cross said it has opened eight shelters in northern Indiana, where crews used boats to help residents evacuate their homes.
Local officials declared a state of emergency in three local cities and asked that traffic be limited to first responders and emergency personnel. Indiana University-South Bend canceled Thursday classes, and residents of a student apartment complex surrounded by water were encouraged to leave.
“I ended up grabbing my favorite blanket and stuffed animals,” 15-year-old Madison Schmidt, who was evacuated from her home in Elkhart to a shelter at a church, told The Elkhart Truth newspaper. “I got into the boat. Seeing what happened, just almost made me cry.” Other parts of the Midwest were under winter weather advisories on Thursday, with Kansas school districts and universities canceling classes and many state employees being told to stay home.
In Michigan, states of emergency were declared in the Lansing area as officials recommended the evacuations of several neighborhoods. City officials said anyone living in the possible flood areas should temporarily leave their home by midday Thursday.
“While the rain has stopped, we are expecting significant flooding,” Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said.
Flooding also hit nearby Michigan State University , where some roads, parking lots and athletic fields were covered by water from the Red Cedar River that runs through its East Lansing campus. Classes in several buildings have been relocated and the school put up sand-filled barriers in an attempt to curb flooding.
The storm system started pushing heavy rain, snow and ice into the region earlier this week, affecting roads and other low-lying areas. The weather was been blamed for hundreds of car crashes and several deaths, including a crash that killed four people along a slippery interstate in Nebraska.
In central Michigan’s Fairplain Township, a 1-year-old girl was found dead Wednesday in standing water from rains and snowmelt in her backyard. In Oklahoma, authorities said a 53-year-old man drowned when he drove onto a flooded bridge near Stilwell and was swept off the roadway.
In Illinois, authorities issued an evacuation order Wednesday for residents in Marseilles who live near the Illinois River. Fear of the rising river also prompted the evacuation of a nursing home in Ottawa. Two days of rain in southern Wisconsin also swelled waterways, leading to a handful of high-water rescues.
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