Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Fairfield can't stand the rain

Waterlogged locals want help

Bu Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

FAIRFIELD - "Please do something," was the plea of numerous Fairfield residents Monday who were flooded after heavy rains this month.

Many of the more than 100 residents who came to City Council told of mature trees falling on Suffolk Drive into Pleasant Run Creek. They told of 2 feet of raw sewage in homes on Happy Valley Drive and of mold now growing on interior house walls on Banker Drive.

For more than two hours, the council listened to story after story of devastation caused by flooding along the creek and its tributaries. Residents said many back yards continue to crumble into the creek and its tributaries.

They asked for help to prevent future flooding.

"We got everything but the locusts, and they were afraid to come," said Don Hardin, who has a business on Winton Road. "You call it Pleasant Run Creek - I call it Hell's Creek."

Added Rick Schaffer of Palmetto Drive, "They call it an act of God. I call it an act of ignorance."

Two-thirds of the acreage that drains into the first of two city-built basins to control flooding is in Hamilton County. And 56 percent of the property that drains into the second basin comes from Hamilton County property, said Jim Turner, Fairfield's city engineer.

Mayor Erick Cook said the city would probably have additional engineering studies done to look at the problem.

"There needs to be more collaboration on a regional basis with Hamilton County to get the water to the Great Miami River," he said.

In a June 19 report to the council about the June 14 floods, Turner wrote that 1,160 of the 2,066 acres that drain into the basin at the North Trace Executive Golf Course is Hamilton County property. And 2,050 of the 3,080 acres that drain into the basin off Henesy Drive, where it intersects Monica Drive, is Hamilton County property.

That's significant, he said, because it rained in Hamilton County first before the storm hit Fairfield about 6 p.m.

"The heaviest rainfall from this storm appeared to occur near the Butler-Hamilton County line and in northern Hamilton County," Turner wrote.

"Rainfall in Hamilton County can cause flooding problems for Fairfield because a significant portion of the Pleasant Run Creek watershed is located in Hamilton County."

The city has spent $22.3 million to build two retention basins, replace four bridges, make sewer improvements and do work along Pleasant Run Creek.

That work, city officials said, prevented worse damage because the June 14 storm reached the magnitude of a 100-year storm in part of the city - similar to an August 1979 flood that affected 200 homes and businesses, doing $1.1 million in damage.

The June 14 storm caused damage to nearly 100 homes, with damage estimated at $1.5 million, according to Fire Chief Don Bennett.

When compared to the last flood two years ago, there was significantly more water in the basins, Turner said.

The golf course basin was 3.5 feet higher this month, and the Henesy Drive site had 2.5 feet more water than it did in June 2001.

Water was 1.8 feet higher this time at the Augusta Boulevard bridge and 2.6 feet higher at the Winton Road bridge near the fire station. Higher water was also reported at the John Gray Road bridge and along Resor Road near the soccer fields.

Four years ago, the city proposed to build a levee along the creek between Resor and Nilles roads at a cost of about $5 million to protect about 150 homes from a 100-year-storm. But the project never moved forward because a majority of property owners refused to grant the city easements for the project.


E-mail suek@infionline.net

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