Hamilton County braces for high waters

Mar 13, 2015

Seasonal flooding comes as no surprise to Tristate officials, who have ordered a handful of road closures, and are preparing to close more as the Ohio River rises.  And the flooding has shined a spotlight on the relative isolation of a pair of Hamilton County communities.

River levels around Hamilton County are already high, and with more rain today and tomorrow, the sheriff's office and county engineer are preparing to close more roads.  Parts of Four Mile, Eight Mile, Debolt and Kellogg had water standing on them earlier this week.

Chief Engineer Ted Hubbard says they're keeping an eye on things.  “At the present time we expect the Ohio River to crest on the 15th at, I believe, 55 feet,” Hubbard says.  “We are in contact with contact with the Sheriff’s Office.  And we are also in contact with Anderson Township, and other local governments.”

Hubbard and Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil say there could be more road closures coming.

As of mid-afternoon Friday, Lawrenceburg Road, between US50 and Miamiview at Lost Bridge was blocked off because of high water.  This closure affects Crosby, Miami and Whitewater Townships.

The Little Miami and the Great Miami Rivers are not forecast to reach flood stage, but, Hubbard says there is concern about high water from the Ohio back-flowing and causing problems.

There are only three roads connecting Newtown and Anderson Township with the rest of Hamilton County, not including I-275.  And as Hubbard points out, those three roads - Newtown, Beechmont and Kellogg - all have bridges over the Little Miami River.

“If anything happens on those bridges, if any kind of disruption occurs to those bridges, or to the roads leading to those bridges, we have a problem,” Hubbard says.

He says this weekend's expected flooding draws attention to the possible isolation.  He says Hamilton County is trying to address the issue through capital spending.

“There are projects that have been proposed, like the Eastern Corridor, but those projects have impacts too," Hubbard says. "And we have to make decisions as to if that will move forward or not.  And that’s an ongoing process."

The proposed Eastern Corridor would link downtown Cincinnati with the east side of Hamilton County, but it has met with stiff resistance from some in the region.

Overall, Hubbard says flooding is an issue that occurs regularly, and some years it’s worse than others. 

“1996 was accompanied with some serious landslides.  We haven’t had that situation happen yet, but it could happen,” he says.