Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Your fury has swept down upon me. Your terrors have utterly destroyed me.
They surround me all the day like a flood, they assail me all together.
Psalm 88:17-18

North Main Street looking south in Findlay Tuesday.
Photo by Dave Zapotosky, The (Toledo) Blade

I am not sure who the patron saint against flooding is, but if you know, perhaps you can invoke him/her on behalf of my hometown of Findlay, Ohio (about a five and half hour drive to the northeast of Saint Meinrad).

Once again, Findlay is under water.

This past weekend's heavy rainstorms and melting snow cast the muddy brown waters of the Blanchard River that snakes through the city's center over its banks yesterday. The river crested at 16.42 feet (more than 5 feet above flood stage, which is 11 feet). Although once again causing significant damage and inconvience, many residents are grateful that the flooding was about a foot lower than initial forecasts had warned. And, thankfully, though the high waters have disrupted lives, they haven't claimed any.
Still, things are a mess, and this has been happening quite often in recent years.
Actually, the city is still attempting to recover from a devastating flood in August 2007, when the river crested at 18.5 feet (tying the record set in 1913), and caused an estimated $60 million in damage. Then, adding insult to injury, it happened again in February 2008, as the river crested at 16.5 feet. Remarkably, just over a year later, another "smaller" flood affected the city, with a crest of 15.4 feet. And now, March 1, 2011 is added to the list.
Findlay has a long history of major floods (click here to see a short video from the website of the town's newspaper, The Courier,, and the latest instances have made national headlines.
The 10 highest recorded crests of the Blanchard River are as follows, according to The National Weather Service (all registered as major flood stages):
Aug. 22, 2007 -- 18.5 feet
March 13, 1913 -- 18.5 feet
June 14, 1981 -- 17.43 feet
Feb. 11, 1959 -- 16.76
Feb. 7, 2008 -- 16.5 feet
March 1, 2011 -- 16.42
Jan. 22, 1959 -- 16.1 feet
June 2, 1997-- 15.42 feet
March 9, 2009 -- 15.41 feet
Dec. 1, 1927 -- 15.4 feet
I remember the 1981 flood very well. I was in high school at the time, and recall my friends and I helping a business owner or two near the river on Main Street move equipment and place sandbags. The others occurred while I was living away from Findlay, but I heard plenty about them. (I should note that a number of  "lesser" but still significant floods are not on the list above, some of them from the 1990s). One of my uncles used to own a business on North Main Street that was seriously affected with each flood.
My mother, who still lives in Findlay, is high and dry in the section of town where she is (though she is cut off from the majority of the city). Still, I have plenty of relatives and friends right now who are not so fortunate, and are dealing with this for at least the fouth time in four years.
I won't speculate on all the reasons why this is happening. Flooding is a myterious phenomenon, and must be lived with to a certain extent, perhaps. Part of it is due to the geography. Findlay sits a little lower than the miles of flat farmland surrounding it, so it becomes a bowl of sorts. Major residential and commerical development in the city's outlying regions is likely a contributing factor. Who knows all the reasons? Obviously, the issue has become a major source of frustration and controversy for many residents and officials, and it is clear something must be done to address it. Steps have been taken in that regard, but it is a long and costly process.
Things seem to be easing this morning in Findlay, from what I have heard and seen. Massive cleanup, once again, continues, however. And though the waters may be receding back into its banks of the Blanchard River, their power remains to rise again ...

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