If the Blanchard River flood-control project is on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ “A” list, we’d hate to see the “B” list.
Area residents have a right to feel jilted, if not betrayed, now that the corps, in an early Wednesday morning press conference, disclosed that our flood-control plans may not be ready for prime time until 2016, a year later than expected.
A tentative list of flood-control ideas also has been pushed back.
Now, the corps says we may see the best ideas by September, but that it will likely be two years before the final “chief’s report” is released.
If that’s the case (we’re not holding our breath that yet another delay won’t come first), it almost guarantees that no dirt will be moved by August 2017, the 10th anniversary of the second-worst flood recorded on the Blanchard River.
The announcement, the latest in a long list of delays, comes despite the corps’ contention that we’re an example of a fast-track project. Really?
And, so much for all the early efforts of the Northwest Ohio Flood Mitigation Partnership, which got the ball rolling back in 2008, countless trips to Washington by city and county officials, and all the letter-writing campaigns by our state and federal representatives.
Did all that effort and expense really make a difference? We wonder.
Of course, Wednesday’s announcement is being criticized by those who must constantly hear that nothing is being done about flooding. Some people have gotten so desperate for relief, they’ve resigned themselves to the idea that a good cleaning of the river is the best we can do, even though that, in itself, won’t solve our water woes.
Mayor Lydia Mihalik, Hancock County Commissioner Phil Riegle, Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, and Rep. Bob Latta all are on record saying the delay is unacceptable.
On that point, we can all agree.
Anyone who pays sales taxes in Hancock County has contributed to flood control and toward the cost of the studies. We’re all stakeholders in this.
While our flood project may pale in comparison to others around the country, the level of commitment to finding solutions is unparalleled. There may be opposition to some of the early proposals, but anyone who calls this area home realizes that something must be done.
There will be many who aren’t surprised by Wednesday’s news. The number of skeptics has grown with each passing day, month and year. Delays and requests for more studies and money to pay for them can only be absorbed so many times before doubt creeps in.
Could we end up like residents did after a 1960s flood study of the Blanchard? We hope not. But as more and more time goes by, it only becomes harder to keep people from jumping ship into the water.
For nearly seven years, we’ve played by all the rules and complied with all the requests for more money to pay for more studies, with the idea that ultimately our blind investment would make a difference when it rains.
We deserve more than we’re getting.
The corps must do better. If not, the United States Army owes this community a big refund and a bigger apology.
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