By DENISE GRANT
Maps released by the Army Corps of Engineers show its proposed flood plan could lower floodwaters in downtown Findlay by 2 feet during a 100-year flood, but would make flooding higher near Findlay’s reservoirs.
For Findlay, that 2 feet could be the difference between dry and a disaster, like the flood of August 2007.
The proposed project includes a channel that would divert floodwater from Eagle Creek. That could nearly eliminate flooding along Eagle Creek during a 100-year flood, according to the corps’ 199-page draft report, released last Friday.
The plan also calls for construction of a levee west of the Blanchard River and south of the Findlay reservoirs, to keep river floodwaters from spilling into Lye Creek, which aggravates flooding in Findlay.
The maps show the levee will make flooding worse south and east of the reservoirs during a 100-year flood, increasing floodwater levels there between 0.15 feet and 1.56 feet.
Findlay has had three 100-year floods since 2007.
The higher floodwater levels near the reservoir would affect primarily farmland, which has drawn opposition from the Hancock County Farm Bureau.
Maps of both the current flood plain and the modified flood plain will be made available Wednesday at a public meeting hosted by the Army Corps from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Findlay High School.
Flood maps for Findlay, also called inundation maps, became available in April 2009 and can be viewed online on the National Weather Service’s website at www.weather.gov. The system cost $265,000, with Findlay paying about $150,000 and the National Weather Service and the Geological Survey paying the rest.
The flood maps were generated by engineers using elevation calculations, digital topographic data, National Flood Insurance Program maps, Army Corps of Engineers hydrologic information, and historical observations and measurements.
The system allows a resident or business owner to check whether his property would be at risk based on various flood levels. Citizens also can determine water depths in flooded areas.
A quick look through inundation levels shows the difference 2 feet can make in Findlay. These are the inundation levels listed for the city by the National Weather Service:
- 18.5 feet — Highest flood on record in Findlay, March 13, 1913.
- 18.45 feet — Aug. 22, 2007 flood at Findlay.
- 17.5 feet — Major flooding in downtown Findlay. Flooding can be expected from Westerfield Drive to Hancock County 236 along the Blanchard River. Flooding can also be expected along Eagle and Lye creeks between Ohio 15 and the Blanchard River. About three-quarters of the city is inundated.
- 16 feet — 100-year flood level. Widespread evacuations needed in Findlay. High water covers U.S. 68 on the south side of the city.
- 15 feet — Several businesses are impacted downtown, with many roads near the river closed. Hancock County 236 to Ohio 568 inundated, and the following streets are likely to be flooded: Main Cross Street, Broad Avenue, and streets along Eagle and Lye creeks.
- 14.5 feet — Findlay is split in half by floodwaters, inhibiting travel in and out of the city.
- 13.5 feet — Major flood stage begins in Findlay. Water blocks Martin Luther King Parkway and Blanchard Avenue. Several other low-lying roads are flooded along the river. Travel in and out of the city becomes difficult.
- 13 feet — Floodwaters affect East Sandusky Street, Main Cross Street, Blanchard Street, Clinton Court, and many other streets near the Blanchard River. Backwater affects residents living along Eagle and Lye creeks.
- 12 feet — Water reaches River Street and Apple Alley on the west side of Findlay, Blanchard Street between Sandusky and Main Cross streets, and several streets south of Clinton Court near Riverside Park.
- 11 feet — Minor flood stage in Findlay starts. Water reaches areas near Riverside Park and East Main Cross Street.
- 10 feet — Water reaches East Main Cross Street near Lye Creek.
- 9 feet — Flooding occurs on low-lying roads along the river west of Findlay, including Hancock County 140.
- 8 feet — Water covers low-lying portions of South River Road and Howard Street on the west side of Findlay.
The corps’ draft report is posted at http://bit.ly/lrb-comment.
In addition to Wednesday’s public meeting, the corps will have project team members meet with citizens and answer questions from 9 a.m. to noon, and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Hancock County Engineer’s Office, 1900 Lima Ave.
The corps released its draft plan last Friday.
The draft plan makes only two recommendations:
- A 9.4-mile Eagle Creek diversion channel, costing $57.9 million, along a glacial groove southwest of Findlay. Eagle Creek drains into the Blanchard River at Findlay, and the intent of the diversion channel is to route some of the creek’s floodwater away from the city, and slow its re-entry into the river.
- A 1.5-mile levee west of the river and south of the Findlay reservoirs, to keep Blanchard River floodwaters from spilling into Lye Creek, which aggravates flooding in Findlay. The levee would cost about $8 million to build.
The projected cost of the two projects, $65.9 million, is far less than earlier, rough estimates, which had ranged from $111 million to $200 million in Hancock County.
A final Army Corps flood-control plan for the Blanchard River, in the form of a “chief’s report,” is expected next March. It would then be submitted to Congress in an attempt to gain up to 65 percent federal funding for construction.