MOUNT VERNON — With repeated heavy rains, ‘road closed’ signs are becoming a frequent sight in the county.
Flooding is on the radar for county agencies, though they report it has yet to cause continuing significant damage to roadways.
Last year, rainfall in central Ohio, including Knox County, set a record high since records started being kept in 1869. However, the repeated flooding seems to be limited to specific areas each time there is a heavy rain, and the roads and culverts in those areas are standing up well to date, Knox County Deputy Engineer Clint Cochran said.
Cochran said culverts tend to suffer the most from heavy rains, where material is washed away or the culvert is blocked up.
Mark Maxwell, Knox County EMA director, said Knox County typically experiences “nuisance flooding” that doesn’t cause a lot of widespread damage. Flooding is an issue brought up in the county’s hazard mitigation plan, and it suggests projects to raise roads, “particularly county and township roads that become blocked by floodwaters” as well as elevate areas that see repetitive damage. The status of the suggested plan is listed as “ongoing,” according the report, available online on the EMA website.
Maxwell said the plan was adopted and approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2015. The county hopes to upgrade the plan this year, if funding is available, Maxwell said.
A hazard mitigation plan, reviewed every five years and approved by FEMA, is a necessary part of the grant process should the county wish to apply for federal flooding mitigation funds. The plan reviews other hazards as well, such as drought preparation.
Maxwell said the county does not currently have any flooding mitigation projects underway. Because flooding is not as severe in Knox County as in other areas, other issues tend to take precedence, Maxwell said.
While flooding is not a big issue, there are still projects that could be done to help out areas where it is a problem. Maxwell said that a barrier to completing flood mitigation projects is funding, as most grants carry a local match. With other projects that also require a local match, it is hard for communities or the county to delegate funds when they are needed more urgently elsewhere.
Weekend rains pushed the Kokosing River’s water levels up to 9.65 feet Sunday, four and a half feet below flood stage, which is 14 feet, according to the National Weather Service. Multiple roads were closed around the county due to high water.
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