Flooded with problems: SSD to attend seminar dealing with flooding issues

A city administrators says he hopes to learn more about state and federal requirements calling for the demolition of structures existing in a flood plain if the structure sustains more than 50 percent damage during an event.

Safety-Service Director Bill Rains is scheduled  to attend a conference on the matter next week in Columbus to gain a firmer grasp on the policy and to report back to Mayor Rodney Metz and Wapak-oneta City Council members.

Having attended seminars in the past on the topic, Rains said he hopes this seminar clears up what state and federal assistance is available for the city and local residents and what uses the city can have for the land after the razing of structures.

“We don’t want to be heavy handed, we want to be able to do the right thing, but this seminar is about learning more about this,” Rains told the Wapakoneta Daily News after Monday’s council meeting. “The mayor was nice enough to send me to this training and spend time with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency people so that I could learn more about it.”

Metz said he knows the city is responsible to enforce this requirement, but he is hoping some help also might be available.

“Hopefully there are funds not only for us to help but also for the owners of the property,” Metz said, noting funds to move the structure or to pay for the property so the residents can move. “We know that if a building is razed that we can never, ever build on that land again. It can be utilized as a park, but no structures can be built there.”

Rains agreed with the mayor, but he said he also understands the position held by state and federal officials that if a home is getting flooded every time there is a 25-year event then the situation needs to be addressed.

“I believe that my responsibility is to call for the demolition of those buildings if they are damaged more than 50 percent, or 51 percent, and they are in the flood plain,” Rains said. “We are trying to get to the point where buildings that are in the flood plain and habitually flooded and habitually damaged are dealt with appropriately — there needs to be an alternative because you can’t continue that cycle.

“There is the national flood insurance program, but they want to get it to the point where these homes are not damaged anymore,” the safety-service director said. “When a flood event happens it is a catastrophic event, it is hard on the people, it is hard on the community and we want to get these structures so they are not damaged. We want to get it so your life is not that impacted and that is what part of this requirement is trying to achieve.”

Rains said he also realizes there are things happening away from the Auglaize River that are impacting and causing flooding in the flood plains throughout the city.

Rains said the aim of the government program is to reduce or to alleviate the damage caused by flooding of the structures, which means either removing the structure or raising the structure so it is out of the flood plain. He also realizes at times it is not practical to raise the structure out of the flood plain.

He noted there are state and federal programs to purchase these properties but those structures must be in the flood plain.

“I hope to know a lot more after the seminar,” Rains said, “so I can more thoroughly update and inform the mayor and city councilors.”