EcoTrack 11: Portage River cleanup could make flooding worse

WOOD COUNTY -- The flooding along the Portage River last week in Pemberville was the worst since 1950.

The river crested at 14.5 ft., and 60 homes received some sort of damage. Now, folks are nervous a proposed upstream cleanup could make future flooding even worse, reports News 11's Dick Berry.

Charlie Kokomor survived the flood, but his furniture and carpeting did not. In fact, he loaded all the damaged stuff into his pick-up truck and pitched it into a dumpster.

"It was the first time in our house we had water," Kokomor said. Trouble is, it may not be the last.

The Wood County Board of Commissioners is considering a petition to clear debris from the Portage River along a 30-mile upstream stretch, which could be good news for communities from Fostoria to New Rochester -- and bad news for Pemberville.

"Whenever you clean upstream it's going to allow additional to come downstream. And, of course, we as the Village of Pemberville--are downstream," says Mayor James Opelt.

"Our concern is that if there's a cleanup, it has to continue on down. But it's like anything else. If they clean up Pemberville, then who gets it from there? It's Woodville," Opelt says.

The situation has folks like Kokomor shaking their heads.

"Seems like you'd want to take the bottleneck out of the funnel before you keep pouring more fluids the top," Kokomor says.

Wood County Commissioner James Carter says cleanup plans are subject to change.

"The group that asked for the cleanup asked for it up to a certain point. However, the county engineer can include more miles of the Portage if he wanted to," Carter says.

Posted by KO