Ohio River flooding expected to persist
By DAN SEWELL
The Associated Press
CINCINNATI — Forecasters expect flooding to persist through the week in the Cincinnati region, and authorities said Monday that will hinder efforts to assess damage.
The National Weather Service said the Ohio River crested Sunday and was still well above flood stage Monday. Sunday’s peak was more than 8 feet above flood stage and the highest crest since 1997.
Meteorologist Kristen Cassady, in Wilmington, said a couple of dry days will help, but rain expected later in the week could delay the receding.
“It is slowly going down,” she said, adding that although no heavy rain is expected, even light rain would have an impact on the swollen river.
Meanwhile, in East Liverpool, a switch in the weather pattern overnight Saturday caused residents and officials in the river town to breathe a sigh of relief as expected flooding on the Ohio River did not happen.
The rain the city experienced was “no way near as expected,” said Safety Service Director Brian Allen.
“We got lucky when the storm split apart. We got lucky, we really did,” Allen said.
Predictions from the weather service were the river might rise to as much as 22 feet, but Allen said, “It will be well under flood stage, about 10 to 11 feet. I don’t see that forecast changing.”
Monday commutes were complicated by closed roads east of Cincinnati and across the river in northern Kentucky, and some parking lots in downtown Cincinnati were flooded. The Ohio and other rivers caused basement flooding and sewage backups, as well as forcing riverfront businesses to close.
“Floodwaters are a mess,” Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune said, urging patience as authorities try to determine the extent of damages. “Until the water recedes, we simply will not know.”
There was minor flooding farther east along the Ohio, as well as from other waterways. Classes were canceled Monday at Ohio University in southeast Ohio.
Rivers swollen by heavy rains and melting snow have been a nagging problem for days in the central part of the U.S., with the governors of Missouri, Indiana and Illinois declaring disaster emergencies.
In Michigan, river levels were dropping after flooding last week and over the weekend. In southwestern Michigan, where the body of a 48-year-old man was found in floodwaters Sunday in Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo River was receding after peaking above a 1947 record.
Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert, a reporter with The Review in East Liverpool, contributed to this report.