Despite what some believe, Hancock and Putnam counties are making steady progress reducing property damage when the Blanchard River floods.
Since one of our worst floods, in 2007, more than $6 million in federal, state and local tax dollars have been used to purchase over 100 properties in the most flood-prone areas in Findlay and Ottawa.
Structures have been demolished, leaving behind green space, terrain better suited to absorb floodwater.
Those close enough to see the Blanchard rise to its flood stage say removing buildings is having a positive impact.
That’s a good enough reason for the program to continue. It should now that another $1 million has been awarded to Hancock County by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The federal project also includes state and local funds. The county is fortunate to receive the money.
It would be hard not to notice how the landscape has changed in Findlay and Ottawa in the past seven years as, one by one, many of the most flood-prone structures have been plucked from the floodway.
If you’re a doubter, take a drive in Findlay along East Main Cross Street between Blanchard and Osborn, or through the neighborhoods just north and east of the Main Street bridge.
While far from picturesque, land where buildings once stood could become part of our overall flood-control plan or they could remain vacant, a needed buffer between the river and development.
Water will still follow the path of least resistance, of course, but tearing down an ill-located building prevents repetitive financial and emotional upheaval.
As we wait for the Army Corps of Engineers to show us our best options for flood control, we should continue removing as many buildings as we can afford from the water’s edge.
When all is said and done, it may make more of a difference than anything else we can do.
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