Friday, July 20, 2001

Creek's neighbors question flood plans

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFAX — As residents on two of this town's streets threw out damaged furniture and cleared mud from basements Thursday, they asked why millions are being spent for flood protection on Duck Creek but not for Little Duck Creek.

        Two of their neighbors, a father and daughter, died overnight Tuesday when water from Little Duck Creek swamped their basement.

        “This whole flood project is a big joke,” said Mike Bohlen, a Simpson Avenue resident.

        “The federal government and the village are spending big money for a flood protection plan where it affects businesses, but care nothing about the residential area.”

        Army Corps of Engineers officials familiar with the project could not be reached Thursday.

        During the heavy storm Tuesday night, runoff jumped the banks of Little Duck Creek, a tributary of Duck Creek, and flooded the two Fairfax streets.

        Ronald Davenport and his daughter, Anna, drowned after rushing water knocked in a basement wall of their home, across the street from Mr. Bohlen.

        Mr. Bohlen; his wife, Renee; and son Mickie left their home when the water started seeping through a basement wall.

        “I was in the basement sweeping the water into a sump pump when my wife called and said we should get out,” Mr. Bohlen said.

        “I think what we really need here is an evacuation plan,” Mrs. Bohlen said. “Those two lives might have been saved if we had some kind of coordination on how to get out of here.

        “That woman (Mrs. Davenport) stood on her porch and screamed that her husband was drowning, but no one could get to her.”

        Both agree that the village, the federal government and residents may have become too complacent about floods.

        The last study done on Little Duck Creek was in 1980, when the Army Corps determined that it would be too costly to install the same kind of flood control measures on Little Duck Creek that are planned for Duck Creek.

        The corps plans to build a series of flood walls, pumps and levees along 3.8 miles of Duck Creek, at a cost of $36 million. Some of the work has been done, but overall the project is several years behind schedule.

        In 1980, the corps recommended that the houses along Little Duck Creek be purchased and the area turned into a park or wetland. The estimated cost then was $7 million.

        Village Administrator Jennifer Kaminer said Thursday she will ask the corps again about plans for Little Duck Creek.

        She said none of the businesses along Duck Creek suffered any damage from the heavy rainfall Tuesday and Wednesday. In previous years, storms have caused millions in damage there.

        But Jeanine Williamson, 62, who lives on Bedford, said she is sick of all the talk of flood protection for businesses while the water keeps jumping the banks of Little Duck Creek and ruining houses.

        “The floodwater sounded like a roaring river. The creek just filled up and busted,” she said. “It ruined everything in my basement: winter clothes, hot water heater and furnace.”

        She lives about 50 yards from Little Duck Creek.

        Wanda Bowman, 65, who has lived on Simpson Avenue 37 years, said this flood was among the worst she has seen. Her back yard abuts the creek.

        “It cut through part of my back yard, then right out into Simpson Avenue,” she said.


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