Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Disastrous flooding

Grand Lake nearly two feet above normal level

By Shelley Grieshop

The St. Marys River is out of its banks and up against the east side of the Fort. . .

A state of emergency has been declared for Mercer and Auglaize counties following heavy rains this week that caused extensive flooding.
Officials in both counties met this morning to make the announcement and to coordinate the monitoring of conditions across the Grand Lake area. Mercer County received more than 4 inches of rain since Monday night. However, the situation is much more dire in Auglaize County where up to 8 inches has fallen, trapping residents in flooded homes and damaging numerous properties.
"The St. Marys River is still rising and is at 14.5 feet" above the normal level, said Wanda Dicke, director of the Mercer County Emergency Management Agency in Celina. The river is expected to crest later today.
Grand Lake is 22 to 23 inches above pool stage - the same level noted during the Independence Day flood of 2003, which caused extensive damage throughout the area. More than 15 inches of rain fell in about three days in 2003; state and federal disaster declarations were made and helped with the nearly $2 million in damage reported by businesses and residents that year.
Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Craig Morton told county officials this morning he believes the lake has crested and will begin receding. That is good news for the Celina Medical Center, which was surrounded by floodwater on Wednesday. The facility is closed and offices have been moved. See sidebar for temporary locations.
"We're high but dry," said Ken Obringer, marketing and communications director for Mercer Health, which owns and operates the Celina building.
Obringer said water did not get past the cement barriers or sandbags put in place earlier in the week.
Dicke said the emergency declaration at the county level is necessary before a state or federal emergency declaration can be made. Anyone who has sustained damage to their property from the flooding should begin documenting everything, she said.
"Keep track of the damage, any invoices, everything, in case there is assistance coming," she said.
Right now it's a "wait and see game" whether the governor and/or president will declare the local area a flood disaster and open the door for special funding and/or damage reimbursement, she said.
Numerous state, county and township roads remained closed today in both counties due to high water. At press time, main highway closed in Mercer County include U.S. 127 north of Celina at the St. Marys River bridge; state Route 707 near Mendon and state Route 117 between state Route 118 and U.S. 127.
In Auglaize County, officials closed state Route 197 between state Route 66 and St. Marys River Road; state Route 197 east of state Route 66; and state Route 116, between state Routes 197 and 117.
Dicke said motorists need to be aware of all wet roadways.
"The water that was flowing across many of them has turned to ice," she said, adding that problem may continue as temperatures drop this weekend.
Additional online stories on this date
An explosion Wednesday afternoon outside the former Mersman Furniture factory in Celina rattled windows in nearby homes and the nerves of residents in the neighborhood. [More]
A local night club's recent appeal of an alleged smoking ban violation has opened up a can of worms for health officials who are struggling to follow the vague wording of the new law. [More]
Subscriber and paid stories on this date
Community Medical Center, along U.S. 127, Celina, currently is closed due to water surrounding the facility.
Doctors' Urgent Care has moved to Merc
ROCKFORD - The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will pay for the complete resurfacing of Main Street, Village Administrator Jeff Long announced.
MINSTER - Village councilors learned Tuesday night that Nativity scene figures damaged by vandals during the holiday season can be repaired.
Auglaize County Commissioner Doug Spencer recounted highpoints of his trip to Japan at the St. Marys Rotary meeting Wednesday. What struck him most was the graciousness of strangers, particularly an incident on the country's famous Bullet Train.
Dayton Power & Light Company (DP&L) will install an electric line extension on state Route 29 west of Celina to power a future sewer pump station required for the expansion of the county's wastewater treatment facility.
The condition of Denny Howell, a former Celina resident and former superintendent in the Crestview Local School District, has been upgraded to serious at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.
ROCKFORD - It was a tough decision for Jordan Thompson in deciding where to continue his education and football career.
The Parkway senior had plenty of suitors wishing for his services, schools like Miami, Ohio University and The United States Air Force Academy were among his official visits.
ST. MARYS - A trio of St. Marys Roughrider football players announced their college intentions at the high school library on Wednesday afternoon.
Compiled by Gary R. Rasberry
While a number of people will be listening to what happens in New Knoxville on Friday in the Marion Local-New Knoxville game, two of the hottest teams in the Midwest Athletic Conference will square off at Fort Site Fieldhouse.
Friday, 6:30 p.m. Ranger Gymnasium
Last Game: Marion Local rebounded from suffering its first MAC loss of the season with a 63-45 win at Wapakoneta. ... New Knoxville was business as usual, going to 18-0 with a 51-38 win over Temple Christian.
Friday, 6:30 p.m. McBroom Gymnasium
Last Game: Kenton picked up its 14th win of the season in beating Urbana 63-33 on Tuesday night. The Roughriders lost their ninth straight game, falling to Minster 44-36 on Saturday.
Friday, 6:30 p.m. Tiger Gymnasium
Last Game: The Redskins suffered a double-loss weekend, falling first to top-ranked New Knoxville on Friday, then giving up 31 points to Chris Morrow as Van Wert won 49-41. ... Versailles won its annual rivalry game with Ansonia 58-56 in overtime.
Friday, 6:30 p.m. Hermiller Gymnasium
Last Game: Celina picked up its third straight win with a 63-52 win over Bath at the Fieldhouse last Friday. ... The Titans extended their winning streak to six games, beating Van Wert 53-43 last Friday in WBL play.
Friday, 6:30 p.m. The Palace
Last Game: The Cardinals downed Jackson Center 55-44 on Saturday night. ... Coldwater lost a nailbiter to Fort Recovery 49-48 on Monday night.
Friday, 6:30 p.m. Wildcat Gymnasium
Last Game: St. John's downed Covington 61-38 on Saturday night. ... Minster picked up three straight wins over four days, knocking off Marion Local on Friday, then beating Auglaize County rival St. Marys 44-36 on Saturday before downing Jackson Center 66-43 on Tuesday night.