Group to Buy Land to Stop Flooding in 2 Ohio Towns

March 5, 2009

A group looking for ways to prevent another serious flood in northwest Ohio said it will use $3 million in state aid to buy homes and land along the Blanchard River in two hard-hit towns.

Buying the low-lying properties in Findlay and Ottawa will provide space for flood walls, green space and riverbank restructuring, according to the Northwest Ohio Flood Mitigation Partnership.

The group says the state is expected to release the money next month.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is studying the area and will decide how to make attempts at reducing river flooding.

Buying properties will be a first sign of progress, said Leigh Esper, administrative assistant for the flood mitigation group. “We want to show people that, hey, something is being done,” Esper said.

The first buildings are expected to come down this summer, he said.

In the last year and a half, flooding along the Blanchard River has forced hundreds of people out of their homes. The cost has run into the millions of dollars.

The river running through downtown Findlay has topped flood levels 10 times in the past two years.

The $3 million from the state will not be enough to buy every property if the owners agree to sell, Esper said.

The money was expected in November, but the Ohio Department of Natural Resources needed more time to come up with financing for all of the projects in the state budget, said Tony Iriti, head of the partnership.

He has said that city and county leaders need $50 million to cover their share of the costs of new levees, flood walls and other measures to reduce flooding.

The group also is supporting a change that would allow a separate organization to maintain control of flood reduction structures along the Blanchard River, which could also force property owners to pay for operations.

Another funding source being looked at is a county sales tax issue what would go before voters.


Information from: The Courier,

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