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Blanchard River benching project leads to flood stage changes in Findlay

Ongoing project aims to curb flooding concerns in Flag City
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 10:44 PM EST
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FINDLAY, Ohio (WTVG) - The flood of August 2007 sticks out in many Hancock County resident’s minds... as well as their wallets, with over $100 million in damage from the Blanchard River overflowing its banks.

The Flag City and flooding have unfortunately gone hand in hand for well over a century: “I guess when you build a town in the middle of a swamp, it’s kind of what you have to expect,” says Joy Bennett, curator/archivist for the Hancock Historical Museum. “Findlay has been having regular flooding since 1904 -- that’s the first well-documented major flood -- but nothing compares to the one in 1913, definitely the worst flood on record.”

Bennett says many floods in Hancock County have been caused by rapid snowmelt -- not unlike this week -- over frozen or otherwise altered ground. “Hancock County actually has a lot of tiling in the farmland,” Bennett explains, “and a lot of ditches... there are only so many ditches you can dig before they overflow.”

It wasn’t snow in August 2007, of course, but torrential rain -- and even the museum itself wasn’t spared. “Anything that was in the basement was essentially destroyed,” Bennett recalls, “but luckily, all of our artifacts are stored on the second floor!”

Now, thanks to the city’s efforts, a foot of change could make millions of dollars of difference. Each Blanchard River flood stage will be adjusted up by about a foot as of this Monday, March 1st -- a testament to the benching projects the city has undertaken.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FLOOD STAGEOLD (ft)NEW (ft)
Action8.09.0
Minor11.012.0
Moderate12.013.5
Major13.514.5

“Flood mitigation in Findlay/Hancock County has been a big point of contention, but also a major issue we’ve been working to resolve over the last couple of years, says Mayor Christina Muryn. “The National Weather Service reached out and said with the flood mitigation that has been completed -- whether it’s clearing some properties along the rivers that were frequently flooding, or those benching projects -- they felt comfortable changing the flood stages, those indicators of impact to life and property.”

The mayor explained the project further: “[We] cut in a bench in the side of the riverbank, so once the water gets to a certain level, it starts filling in that area before it increases significantly more. We’ve already seen a decrease of about 6″ in some of our flood events, which is very substantial.”

“We’re not going to see any changes to the floodplain map at this point,” Muryn continues, “which is where you really start to see the cost savings -- taking properties out of the floodplain where they are no longer required to have flood insurance. I would look at us moving toward reevaluating that floodplain map in the next 2-3 years.”

The mayor hopes current and future generations can appreciate the achievement: “It’s fantastic! I think it’s great to finally see some of the impact from the work that has gone over in the last 10-20 years.”

For more historical context, check out the “Findlay Floods” section of the Hancock Historical Museum’s website.

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