As of Friday afternoon, county officials had plopped down eight “high water” signs on various rural roads. At about 6:30 a.m., a driver had braved the waters on Chapin Road in Berlin Township but was soon stranded after her car took in too much water to make it to the other side, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.
The woman escaped without injury, but her vehicle was towed from the scene.
As Friday wore on and comparatively warm temperatures chipped away at mounds of accumulated snow, the Huron River began to rise. By evening it had reached 21 feet in the Milan area, Sigsworth said.
An ice jam blocked the river’s flow at the U.S. 250 bridge near Old Mudbrook Road and began to cause floods further upstream.
“It looks like it’s blocked south of Mason Road,” Sigsworth said. “Once the water hits the ice jam, it starts to back up” Milan interim police Chief Bob Meister instructed his officers to check on the river levels every hour in case of emerging problems.
“Obviously the river is rising, but we haven’t hit anything too major. They’ll be keeping an eye on it” Meister said.
Huron police Chief Robert Lippert, meanwhile, had seen no problems further north at the river’s mouth.
“The river’s still frozen in the city, it’s not broken up at all,” Lippert said. “Fingers crossed, it’ll stay that way”
Later Friday, authorities asked residents in Franklin Flats in Milan Township to voluntarily evacuate.
In Vermilion, meanwhile, city officials issued an alert Friday afternoon, advising residents in low-lying areas to be aware of the Vermilion River’s increasingly dangerous condition. A monstrous ice jam had formed at Mill Hollow, with water still pushing through at about 30 times the regular rate, according to park officials.
Further downstream in Vermilion, crews on a barge used a track hoe to smash up the ice near the mouth of the river.
At about 11 p.m. Friday, Vermilion police said they had received no reports that the Mill Hollow ice jam broke through. At about the same time, city officials also said the river has crested on the banks at Riverside Drive and it was continuing to rise.
Officials said cold temperatures overnight Friday would likely stem the flow, both at the Vermilion River and the Huron River.
“If it starts to freeze again, we think that’s probably going to slow this down,” Sigsworth said as he surveyed the Huron River.
In the meantime, local emergency management workers stayed in contact with National Weather Service employees to better anticipate just how the sunshine and temperatures would impact area roads and residents throughout the weekend.
“All we can do is keep monitoring it, get the word out, and take whatever action is necessary” Sigsworth said.
Roads closed on Friday due to flooding:
•Wikel Road, between Huff Road and Ohio 113
•Joppa Road near Mason Road n Ohio 113 East, near Harrison Manufacturing
•Ohio 269, between Portland and Strecker roads
•Chapin Road, between Mason and Barrows roads
•7000 block Billings Road