Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Flooding recalls '01 damage

Fairfax still recovering from last time

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFAX - Heavy rain over the weekend brought back memories of 2001 here, when Little Duck Creek flooded, causing the deaths of two people and damage to 78 homes.

As city and county officials assessed flood damage Monday, residents loaded four Dumpsters with damaged furniture and clothing.

"We don't have totals on how much damage was done, but we know that this weekend's rainfall hit both the residential and business areas," said Fairfax Mayor Ted Shannon. "This comes just as we are in the middle of trying to fix the damage of 2001."

Two plans are on the books to relieve the 2001 flood damage. One is part of the Ohio Emergency Mitigation program that called for a buyout of seven houses and flood-proofing 17 houses west of Watterson Road. That plan is proceeding, though no homes have been purchased or flood-proofed yet.

A second plan is an $800 million U.S. Corps of Engineers program, calling for flood-proofing and buying out 41 houses east of Watterson.

That plan is stalled because the city cannot supply its $2.8 million share of the project cost. The state has kicked in $315,000, but if the city does not get federal money by June 1, it has to ask for an extension or return the money to the state. Hamilton County has given Fairfax $75,000 from its Community Development Block Grant fund.

Jeff Botkin of 3972 South Whetzel sat outside with his damaged clothing and furniture Monday.

"We lost all of our clothes, computers, VCRs, tapes, carpeting,'' Botkin said. "The real problem is not necessarily the flooding, it is the sewer system. Since we have had the flooding for the last 30 years, the sediment and mud have built up in the sewage system and it backs up into our basement."

Across the street at 3983 South Whetzel, village Councilwoman Pat Haas suffered damage to clothing and furniture when her basement, bedroom and kitchen flooded.

"There was only 3 inches of rain, yet my basement flooded. In fact, my basement flooded before the creek overflowed. There must be a lot of buildup upstream," Haas said.

She said flood issues will be brought before tonight's meeting of the Village Council's Facility Management Committee that she chairs.

Michael Snowden of the Hamilton County office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that to qualify for FEMA funds, 25 or more homes must have 40 percent structural damage.

"We have found lots of damage to furniture and clothing, but not much structural damage,'' Snowden said.

Hamilton County Commissioner John Dowlin is calling for a meeting with Delhi Township trustees and the Metropolitan Sewer District to discuss problems weekend flooding along Rapid Run Road.

E-mail ahoward@enquirer.com

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