Flood emergency in Bellevue shuts down much of city

BELLEVUE Bellevue city officials declared a state of emergency at 1:30 p.m. Monday, asking local mot
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Bellevue city officials declared a state of emergency at 1:30 p.m. Monday, asking local motorists to stay off the roads after floodwaters shut down travel throughout most of the city.

Bellevue Safety-Service Director Jeffrey Crosby said flooding on Monday was "as bad as it's ever been," comparing Monday's floodwaters to those of June 2006.

"Right now I don't know of a street in Bellevue that isn't flooded," Crosby said Monday afternoon. "All the pumps are working. It's just the volume of water has overwhelmed the system."

Non-stop rain throughout the morning flooded highways and even homes all over Bellevue.

The rain forced Bellevue police to call in off-duty and volunteer officers to handle the high volume of calls and flood emergencies throughout the city.

Several officers directed traffic at Bellevue's major intersections.

Floodwater converted Ancel Webb's front lawn and driveway at 2644 Ohio 269 into a small lake. He walked across his property in galoshes as his home was surrounded by water.

"I've never seen it flooded like this," Webb said as he surveyed the damage to equipment in his garage, which was also flooded with about one foot of water.

Sue Gardner, 210 Sherman St., was extremely frustrated with her flooded basement after dealing with the same problem last year.

"I'm disgusted, totally disgusted," she said. "I could cry. I have been crying all morning. I don't know what to do anymore. The city has got to do something about this."

Crosby said the city's been doing all it can, but Bellevue's flat topography prevented the non-stop rain from escaping fast enough.

Bellevue and Huron County emergency management personnel provided the city with at least three additional water pumps -- one 6-inch and two 12-inch pumps -- to siphon water out of Bellevue.

"There's not a lot of drainage -- no rivers, no creeks," he said. "When the water table's been as high as it has been, it just can't absorb the water. It has to go somewhere. I don't think you can build anything for this kind of rain."

The National Weather Service estimated that by 8 a.m. Monday, 1.5 inches of rain per hour was falling on the Bellevue area.

Meteorologist Martin Thompson said since Sunday two systems of air, one warm and one cool, converged with a tropical front over the Bellevue area and stopped moving, causing massive amounts of rain to fall.

"During summertime when a weather pattern does set up, it takes a long time for it to change as compared to the winter," Thompson said. "We had some measurable rain last week, but nothing like we're seeing now."

Thompson couldn't provide Bellevue's precise amount of rainfall, but said similar areas received 3-4 inches during the afternoon.

Traffic into and out of the city slowed to a crawl as cars stalled trying to drive through the flooded Main Street/U.S. 20 underpass.

U.S. 20 was also shut down at the Ohio 113 intersection.

Cindy Bilton, 38, of Norwalk thought her 1996 Dodge Caravan could make it across a two-foot deep puddle at the intersection of Sandusky Street and Sherman Street, but it stalled in the middle of the road.

"I stopped in the middle and somebody pushed me up this far," Bilton said as she waited for family to arrive and help her restart her van. "Everybody else was making it."

Crosby said the city's state of emergency is set to run indefinitely until the rain stops. Showers were expected to continue throughout Monday night.

People experiencing flooding should continue to call authorities and be patient, he said.

"We'll try to help them as much as we can."