Sen. Voinovich in Findlay to Discuss Flooding

FINDLAY -- On Monday, Ohio Senator George Voinovich wanted to hear how things are going with people in areas that were recently flooded. So, he went to Findlay for a roundtable about response and recovery efforts to the flood.

Eight counties declared disasters and now qualify for nearly $17 million in aid. FEMA officials claim response from local, state and federal agencies ran smoothly.

"The only thing that went wrong -- we might want to concentrate on is getting the public assistance folks on the ground faster," said Jesse Munoz, a FEMA representative.

But the big question of the day: How do you make sure it doesn't happen again?

"I think the biggest challenge in getting these projects done is getting a proper engineering solution that minimizes the risk to people who live in the areas and also an environmentally sustainable solution," said Colonel John Hurley, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Hurley says fixing the flooding along the Blanchard River could cost as much as $70 million.

But Voinovich is angry because the Corps is under funded. He claims $49 billion in projects now sit on the back burner.

"But the fact is the dollars aren't there to get the job done. And what we've done is we have ignored the infrastructure problems confronting Americans today," Voinovich said.

Voinovich promises to fight for more money.

The sooner, the better says Findlay Mayor Tony Iriti, who worries the price will increase and the threat of flooding will remain.

"If we don't get this thing started now, it could be 10, 12, 15 years down the road," Iriti said, adding that a river should be an asset to a community, not a liability.

Posted by KO