Some flood damage may be unavoidable, when rising water enters buildings or covers yards. Other flood damage is unnecessary.
“Every time it rains heavy the road gets blocked off, that’s when I get torn up,” Gene Kuhn said.
Kuhn lives on US 224, near the intersection with SR 67 and near the Rock Creek bridge. During heavy rainfall, Rock Creek floods US 224 near Kuhn’s home, and the road is closed to traffic. Not all drivers heed signs indicating the road closure, however. Kuhn’s driveway and yard sometimes becomes the choice for an unscheduled turn-around, Kuhn said.
Other neighbors in the area have reported similar damage, according to past news reports.
“Some semi or something has gotta come down there and try to turn around,” Kuhn said. “Of course, they don’t know how to hit the driveway. They shouldn’t be there anyway.”
Kuhn has spoken numerous times to the Ohio Department of Transportation about the issue. ODOT officials at the Tiffin garage have been sympathetic and offered to repair Kuhn’s yard when weather conditions permit and when they have the time.
According to past news reports and Kuhn’s account, the road has flooded at the Rock Creek bridge at least seven times since June 2006.
“That’s been an area that we’ve been watching,” ODOT spokeswoman Theresa Pollick said. “When it flooded in August we were able to put up barricades. We usually don’t do this, but we actually had guys out there manning the barricades. That’s above and beyond what we do. It was really helping (Mr. Kuhn) out.”
Pollick said manpower was needed in other areas during the most recent flooding, so the extra duty could not be accommodated for manning the US 224 barricades.
“Our priority mission is to make sure the roads are passable,” Pollick said. “We have to use all personnel to do that.”
Local ODOT officials placed an extra road closed sign along the route, Pollick said.
Kuhn said he would like to see the road closed signs placed so they are more difficult to drive around. Kuhn said drivers drive past the road closed signs and end up near his home before realizing they can go no farther.
This time, damage was done to Kuhn’s yard after the flood water receded off the Rock Creek Bridge. Kuhn said he left his home at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday and noticed the road over the bridge was clear of water. He said ODOT workers removed the road closed signs at about 8 a.m. Sometimes during that half-hour window, a vehicle evidently turned around on his property and left ruts in his yard.
“There was no reason for it because the road was dry,” Kuhn said. “That’s what irritated me the most.”
Kuhn said he recognizes the damage to his property is not as severe as flooded homes in other parts of the county, but the problem has recurred numerous times in recent years.
“Here’s people getting their basements completely drowned out and I’m (complaining) about my grass getting torn up,” Kuhn said. “It sounds kind of petty. I don’t want to sound like a big baby.”
Kuhn said he wonders whether a problem exists along Rock Creek that prevents water from flowing away from the bridge. Tia Rice of the Seneca Soil and Water Conservation District said Kuhn could call her office to discuss the issue. If enough neighbors along the creek joined together, her department may be able to gain permission from the state of Ohio to investigate the creek to see whether a drainage solution can be found, Rice said.