Flash flood leaves wet mess

Mar. 6—A train of rain storms rolled over central Daviess County leaving flash flooding for several hours. The heavy rains overran sewers and small streams shutting down roads, leaving some cars stranded and resulting in some damage as basements and low-lying buildings were swept up in the water.

"We got about four to five inches of rain in two to three hours of time. That created flooding in some low-lying areas on city and county roads. It also resulted in flooding of some basements with water coming in. It did create some problems," said Daviess County Emergency Management Agency Director Scott Myers. "There were several cars that got flooded down along West Main. That is an area that is impacted when we get heavy rains.

That is also where the Washington Carnegie Public Library sits. The heavy rains wound up sending water into the library causing it to close down on Wednesday.

"When we get rains like we did, it always causes problems. We have some areas where there are problems, around the Library on Main Street, at Siler's," said Washington Mayor David Rhoads. "We have all of this water trying to get away and the outlets can't take it that fast. The water then starts to sit and back up. The pipes are only so big and they will only take so much water."

Michael Aviles Soto lives on North Meridian Street. His home's basement wound up full of water.

"My basement got flooded and a couple of my neighbor's basements were flooded as well, and it is not the first time that has happened," he said. "I'm frustrated because I went to the conference the mayor had two years ago and he made some statements regarding the sewers but I have never seen anything going on, on my street. It is disappointing he makes a statement about fixing the issue and then nothing. I was expecting more."

The storm system that hit the Washington area might be considered a freak phenomenon that put it in the midst of storm after storm for hours.

"The problem we had was that the storms clutched onto a weather line and they were moving very slowly. As soon as one moved through another would back-build behind it. They came like a train one-after-another," said Myers. "We did not have nearly as much rain behind us in Knox County. It was mostly right on top of central Daviess County. The northern and southern parts of the county didn't even receive as much rain."

What doubled the problem in Washington is the way the drainage system is laid out. The system collects the water as it builds into a single stream to exit the town.

"A lot of this in communities with combined sewer overflow have different problems. It all flows to the CSO tank, then to the wetlands and finally to the treatment plant," said Rhoads. "Last night we had all three gates open at the treatment plant. The level at the CSO plant was seven foot above where it should have been," said Rhoads.

The storm appeared to produce less damage than a similar flood event that happened a few years ago that resulted in the Daviess Community Hospital and several homes being flooded.

"I am not an engineer, but if there is a way to minimize the problem, as least slightly that would be awesome," said Aviles Soto. "I think we need projects that help the people that live here."

"As a city, there is only so much we can do. All of this water is filtering down and it is headed for one place," said Rhoads. "When we have these floods there are always people who are upset with the city and want us to make the system bigger. My question back to them is how big do you want to make it? What is the cost? And how do you intend to pay for it?"

The mayor says that as much as everyone would like to avoid being caught in these problematic flash floods, the city is still caught in a situation where it cannot fight mother nature.

"It is a concern. I hate it. I wish we would never have any flooding issues, but the reality is we cannot control the weather," said Rhoads. "Unfortunately, these things happen and it seems like in recent years we are getting more of these very heavy rain storms that create flooding and trouble."