After heavy snows turned to steady rains, many areas of Switzerland County have been under flood waters for the past week; closing county and state roads and forcing some residents from their homes.
Rising flood waters closed State Road 56 between Vevay and Madison over the weekend near Patton Hollow Road; but the flooding had subsided enough by late Tuesday afternoon that traffic was again allowed, but motorists were warned to use caution.
Plum Creek Road at the intersection of Cogley Cole Road was closed due to flooding, as were several other county roads that have dry fords on them and other low lying areas.
The largest collection of flood waters came in the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park, where rising waters floated picnic tables from out of shelter houses and left the entire park under water. Vevay Town Police closed the park to all traffic last week, and it looks as though the park will remain closed into next week.
Even after flooding subsides, no one knows what will be left behind; but workers are anticipating lots of debris and driftwood will be there to be cleaned up before areas can be opened to residents.
Near Florence, Turtle Creek was well over its banks, creating flood conditions at the marinas; and summer vacation homes on Cole Road near Bryants Creek; along with vacation homes near the Ohio Valley Land Development east of Patriot; were also cut off from the highway due to flood waters over roads and lanes.
The boat dock at the Patriot ramp was still floating in flood conditions; and water had risen on Third Street near the Town of Patriot, along with some flooding of tributaries.
At the Markland Dam, Lockmaster Gary Birge said that the water levels are beginning to drop, and he feels that they may drop rather drastically in the coming days.
“It’s starting to drop out,” he said on Wednesday morning. “After the river crested early last week, we had higher water and another crest since then.”
Birge said that the high point at Markland reached 53-feet on the lower gauge at 7 a.m. on Monday, March 15th; and stayed there until 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning, March 16th.
“The crest was about at about 11 a.m. on Monday the 15th,” Birge said. “One was going up, and the other going down.”
As of Wednesday at noon, the level at Markland was 50.0 – a fall of three feet since the beginning of the week.
Flood stage at Markland is 51-feet.
The forecast for the river levels is anticipated to be at 48.4-feet today (Thursday); and then it will decline to 46.3-feet tomorrow (Friday). The predicted levels are to be the levels at 7 a.m. each day; and Birge said that his information tells him that the level should drop to 45.6-feet by the afternoon tomorrow.
“Once it starts, hopefully it will just keep on going down,” Birge said. “I’d just as soon it not get back up in here.”
Since the flooding started, the gates of the dam have been ‘all out’, meaning that the river is basically free flowing through the dam.
Birge said that the gates will go back in the water at around the 46-foot stage. Depending on how fast the levels go down and stay down, he said that the gates will probably go in either tonight (Thursday) or tomorrow morning (Friday).
“When we went out (lifted the gates out of the river), our lower gauge was actually a 46.8,” Birge said. “We’ll go back in, because of the fall, and we’ll want to start holding. We’ll go back in right at that same area – 47 or 46 – because it takes a little bit of time to get them in.”