Clean-up continues after days of flooding in central Ohio

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Residents picked through waterlogged family items after waves of storms on Thursday, July 13, swamped central Ohio with as much as 3 to 6 inches.

The rain fell at the rate of two to three inches an hour in the more intense downpours that also caused flooding on North High Street in Columbus, and low-lying areas around the city. The stalled frontal boundary and associated tropical deluge was the second major storm system to affect the region four days, following upwards of 2 inches of rain and severe weather that occurred earlier in the week on Monday evening, July 10. John Glenn Columbus International Airport recorded 3.11 inches of rain on Thursday, the tenth wettest day in city records and second soggiest July daily-rainfall, after July 13, 1992 (5.13 inches).

Hardest hit were by flooding were areas extending from Columbus and southern Franklin County southeastward through southern Licking, northern Fairfield and northeastern Pickaway counties, with as much as 6.30 inches reported by a weather spotter a Millersport, at the southwest end of Buckeye Lake. Many reports of rainfall in excess of five inches were reports observed around Buckeye Lake and areas to the immediate west. The lowland sections southeast of Columbus, and low-lying urban areas, are especially prone to flash flooding during intense rainfalls.

Flooding was widespread in southwestern Licking County along the South Fork of the Licking River that crested Friday at 11. 8 feet at Hebron—fifth highest on record. Rising floodwaters in southeastern Franklin County and areas to the south and east prompted evacuations and several water rescues. Fortunately, no injuries were reported in the flash flooding.

The South Fork Licking River, which meanders through southwestern Licking County and briefly enters Fairfield County, takes in many tributaries and stormwater runoff, including water from Buckeye Lake that tumbles over the Sellers Point Spillway, compounding flooding issues in low-lying areas during excessive rain events.

In recent years, Licking County Emergency officials put a Buckeye Lake Dam Safety Warning System in place to warn residents in case of a failure of the Buckeye Lake Dam, which includes outdoor warning sirens and emergency public notification in the Buckeye Lake Dam area. Alerts are issued only in the event of imminent or ongoing dam failure, based on a set of specific criteria, monitored and evaluated around-the-clock by officials from Ohio Department of Natural Resources and first responders.

Fairfield County EMA and Homeland Security Director Jon Kochis said, “The sirens that make up the Dam Warning System are dual purpose, also being able to send alerts for Tornado Warnings. The Dam Warning is a different tone and is tested the first Thursday of every month at noon.”

Kochis stressed that the system is not used to warn residents of stormwater flooding, only of “a breach or imminent breach” of the dam. The Dam Safety website has more information: www.buckeyelakedamsafety.com.

Flash floods claim an average of 84 lives in the United States each year, based on the 30-year average, more than any other type of storm-related disaster.

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