Thursday, February 27, 2003

Flooding a close call, but Tristate escapes

By Jim Hannah, The Cincinnati Enquirer
and David Eck, Enquirer contributor

[photo] Steve Gott, owner of the Ludlow Bromley Yacht Club, paddles a canoe on the Ohio River back to shore after checking to make sure his docks were riding properly on the "spud" poles to which they are anchored. He checks every three hours, 24 hours a day when the river is rising and falling.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
The Tristate dodged the deluge Wednesday.

A portion of Kellogg Avenue was closed by flooding in Anderson Township. The ramp leading to several floating restaurants at the Covington Landing was blocked by high water.

Minor flooding covered some portions of low-lying roads across the Tristate, but generally, the National Weather Service flood warning went unnoticed Wednesday. The agency's office in Wilmington said the river crested Wednesday morning at 50.8 feet, below the flood stage of 52 feet at Cincinnati.

The flood warning for the Ohio River at Meldahl Dam, about 40 miles from downtown Cincinnati, near Neville, Ohio, was lifted altogether.

As late as Tuesday night, the river had been predicted to crest at Cincinnati between 52 and 53 feet.

Boat builder Ray Gaskins and his son spent several days last week preparing their business on the river's edge in California to accommodate the rising Ohio.

Wednesday afternoon Gaskins, who works on the banks of the river on Panama Street and lives in a houseboat moored nearby, was pleased the water remained at bay.

"We basically got ready for a repeat of 1997, and (fortunately) it didn't come," he said. "I've been monitoring it since daybreak this morning and if anything it's down two inches. It's wonderful. It saved a lot of anguish, work, aggravation."

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service said forecasted snow Wednesday night and today (Thursday) will not amount to more than an inch and shouldn't drastically affect river levels.

David Rager, director of the Greater Cincinnati Water Works, said the high waters have not affected his operations.

"The water has to get to 60 feet for it to affect us at all," he said. "At that point, it makes our facilities islands accessible only by boat."

He said the minor flooding will not affect the quality of the drinking water in Greater Cincinnati.

When the Ohio River approaches 52 feet, flooding occurs east of Coney Island, on parts of Humbert Avenue in eastern Cincinnati and on most of the Public Landing.

Bellevue Beach Park off Frank Benke Way in Campbell County was about 2 feet under water Wednesday, but Bellevue city officials were not concerned. The picnic tables and other park amenities are made of concrete and iron, materials designed to withstand a flood, and anchored to the ground.

Like many who live and work along the Ohio, Gaskins was prepared for a flood.

He moved generators and other equipment onto barges or his houseboat. Other items were tied down with cables. He was also prepared to move equipment out on trucks, if necessary.

"Everything we've got either floats or it's on wheels," he said. "I don't get nervous until 58 or 59 (feet)." As he spoke, water flowed swiftly, well back from the road.

"We know that we can't change the river. We've got to deal with it," he said. "I'll sleep better tonight."

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