Two years ago, Hancock County was still treading water when it came to making visible progress toward flood control in the Blanchard River watershed.
Oh sure, we had begun cleaning the Blanchard and the Lye and Eagle creeks better than before the big flood 12 years ago this month. And we were still buying up some of the most flood-prone properties that would get in the way of high water.
But the main things we seemed to be doing were studying flooding (and spending millions doing it), and talking about what we should or shouldn’t do.
Finally, in 2018, the community took a huge step forward when a river-widening project began just west of downtown Findlay. That job, which is now nearing completion, is the largest flood-relief effort ever undertaken in our history.
In the big picture, though, we’re just getting started.
As a story in Wednesday’s Courier (Page A1) noted, three other projects are in the planning stages. Two would be done just up river from the current benching project, and the site for the third is just south of Findlay in Eagle Township.
Additional benching being proposed east and west of the Main Street bridge, and the reconfiguration of the Norfolk Southern Railroad bridge, west of North Cory Street, would be good next steps. The proposed storage basin, which would collect overflow from Eagle Creek during flood events, likewise will help reduce the level of the Blanchard River as it moves through Findlay and beyond.
Sure, some will argue we’re still studying things that have been studied before, and we’re still spending a lot of money to get the next project shovel ready. But finally we’re making progress and sleeping a little better at night when rain is in the forecast.
Pushing ahead with the three projects now on the drawing board is a good strategy. There’s no such thing as a fast-track flood project. Engineering studies are needed to determine if a project is feasible, worth the cost and then, if we can find a way to fund it.
All that, of course, takes time. But moving upstream with future flood projects keeps us going in the right direction.