By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
As soon as Brad Gilbert entered the room, there were groans. The Wood County Emergency Management Agency director was not on the agenda, so his unexpected arrival at the Wood County Commissioners meeting this morning could only mean one thing.
There were problems. They don’t call Gilbert the “grim reaper” for nothing.
After 10 inches of rain in some areas of the county this week, the county was overwhelmed. And a revised report from the National Weather Service suggested that the problem would get worse before it got better.
“They are predicting a major flood stage tonight into tomorrow morning,” Gilbert said.
The biggest problems are being seen in Wayne, where storm sewers couldn’t keep up with the rain, and are expected next to hit Pemberville, where two branches of the Portage River come together in the downtown area. By time the water crests tonight or Friday morning, it will likely be in the basements of the downtown businesses, Gilbert said.
Just this morning, Gilbert said, fire crews from Pemberville, Bradner and Wayne had to use a boat to rescue a woman from her home that was surrounded by high water along Ohio 281.
“It’s an act of Mother Nature. There’s no way to control it,” he said.
And after multiple consecutive days of heavy rains, especially in southern Wood County, the ditches and fields are their limits.
“There’s no where for it to go,” Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said.
The EMA office has been in contact with the Pemberville mayor and fire chief, and has been asked by Wayne officials for sandbags.
“It’s too late for sandbags at this point,” Gilbert said.
Plans have also been made with the American Red Cross. “The Red Cross is in place, ready to go if they are needed,” he said.
On the other side of the county, the Maumee River is not threatening Grand Rapids, he added. “The village is in pretty good shape.”
Pemberville and Grand Rapids are accustomed to their rivers flooding, but the problem is new to Wayne, which does not sit along a waterway. Gilbert surmised that the village’s aging storm sewer system may need cleaning.
On Wednesday, Bowling Green officials warned residents about flooding issues. Because of the large amount of rain, storm water systems are at or nearing capacity, the city cautioned. Areas that normally do not flood may experience standing water or flood conditions.
“During large rain events, roads sometimes act as areas of additional storm water retention to allow traditional retention areas, such as ditches and ponds, to drain and accommodate the additional water,” city officials stated. “When rain falls rapidly and heavily, as it has in recent days, it takes time for this water to enter the system. This is made increasingly difficult due to saturated ground and systems already at capacity.”
Residents were reminded to check basement sump pumps and back-ups and be mindful of the potential standing water along roadways. If roads do flood, residents were asked to turn around and not attempt to drive through the water.