Heavy rains continue to hammer the East Coast, and although the rain is subsiding here Switzerland County will continue to see the effects of the rising Ohio River.
People with possessions along the river have been busy moving things to higher ground since the weekend; and a string of motorists have been making their way down Ferry Street to see the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park in Vevay which is now almost completely under water.
Although some people in the community have been speculating on when the river will crest, it is believed that the park and other low lying areas will remain under water for several more days.
Once the water does recede, the task of trying to clean up flooded areas will begin.
With high water comes a wide range of items, from heavy tree limbs to trash and other debris, and it will take workers and volunteers many hours to get everything cleaned up.
Roadways are also being closely watched by county officials.
The county highway crew is working to make sure that portions of roadways don’t wash away with the flooding; and police, fire, and emergency crews are also monitoring the situation so that if an emergency happens the residence can be gotten to as soon as possible.
Also keeping a close eye on the weather are officials from the Switzerland County School Corporation. A decision was made late last week to discontinue bus service to a portion of Fishing Worm Ridge Road because of the slippage and damage that the rains have already done (see article on page four), and all county roads that school buses travel down are being watched for rising water.
As of Tuesday afternoon the Switzerland County Sheriff’s office was reporting eight county roads as closed because of high water:
— Upper Goose Creek Road near Patriot.
— Bud Ballard Road near Florence and Markland.
— Cogley Cole Road at Plum Creek east of Vevay.
— Jackson Road at Pendleton Run Road near Long Run.
— Bennett Road above Markland.
— Emmich Road north of Vevay off of State Road 129.
— Lower Dugan Road just off of Plum Creek.
— Hunt’s Creek Road between Vevay and Markland.
Additionally, sections of the River Road, State Road 56 to the west and State Road 156 to the east, have also experienced water over the roadways.
A section of State Road 56 at Patton Hollow near Lamb has drawn particular interest, as motorists have been warned by signs to proceed with caution through that portion of the roadway.
As of Tuesday afternoon the water was running over highway 56 at Patton Hollow, and those conditions may continue through the weekend, so motorists are advised to proceed with caution through that area.
The flooding also caused the temporary closing of the Miss Belterra casino at Belterra Casino Resort and Spa. The casino was shut down at approximately 3 a.m. on Monday morning after the river rose to such a high level that the access ramps connecting the land based facilities to the riverboat were too steep for customers to safely board.
After some construction and engineering, Belterra reopened at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon for gamblers.
Coach Wayne Ellegood of the Switzerland County Lady Pacers said that the team bus that carried the squad to Tuesday night’s game at New Albany didn’t run into any high water conditions on the roads, but precautions were taken to make sure that the team had plenty of time to get to the game.
At the Markland Dam and Locks, lockmaster Gary Kinman said that at midnight Tuesday night the water level hit 51.6 feet; and was expected to hit 52 feet sometime Wednesday.
The official flood stage at the Markland Dam and Locks is 51.0 feet.
“The river has not crested yet,” Gary Kinman said. “Some rain fell Tuesday above the dam, so the falling of the water level should be slow even after the crest.”
Gary Kinman said that estimates indicate that the river level should fall to around 51.4 feet sometime today (Thursday), but warned that these are merely estimates, and that no firm numbers can be calculated until the weather begins to stabilize. Projections show the river at 51.2 feet on Friday and 50.7 feet on Saturday.
Making the situation with the water even stranger is the unseasonably warm temperature that Switzerland County is experiencing.
With temperatures in the 60s, some of the flood water is evaporating into the air, only to condense as fog just off the surface of the water. This is leading to a blanket of fog over much of the county, which is further hindering drivers as they try and avoid pools of water on the roadways.
The town of Vevay is also keeping a close eye on its new water tower on the west end of Vevay, as the recent rains have caused some of the soil on the slope of the tank to slide down the hill.
Although it is not believed that the tank is in any danger of falling down the hill, town council member Keith Smith said that the town is diverting water from the tank to other areas in an effort to have as little weight on the hillside as possible.
At their meeting Monday night, the town council approved a plan to have a firm from Lawrenceburg conduct some tests on the hillside; and the council is also contacting Commonwealth Engineering, the company that Oversaw the construction and placement of the water tank.
The last problem for those fighting the high water is that the forecast for the coming days shows a sharp drop in temperature for Switzerland County and the surrounding area.
With temperatures in single digits by the weekend, much of the water will turn to ice — giving drivers and residents yet another problem to tackle as they move around the county.