It is late June, 1998. Warm moist air has collided with cool air to develop a frontal boundary creating thunderstorms covering much of Southeast Ohio. The frontal boundary system stalls and its resulting storms produce a foot or more of rain over four days that floods the banks of Duck Creek, a 30-mile long tributary that flows through Noble and Washington Counties. Families are forced to wait on rooftops for rescue by helicopter, waters reach the tops of utility poles, and nearly all the homes in one small town are destroyed. All told, this localized flooding caused five deaths and an estimated $20 million in property damage.
As a result of this devastation, local officials, agencies and residents began an initiative to establish a flood warning system for Duck Creek. After several years of research and evaluation, a system consisting of various stream and rain gauges, computer monitoring equipment, transmitters and associated enclosures was designed. In 2012, installation was complete and the system became operational. This system provides real-time data for the National Weather Service and can be accessed via USGS website. This information aids emergency management personnel in making emergency preparedness decisions. The $376,000 project is expected to produce a benefit in avoided property damage of $131,260 annually over 50 years; a total impact of over $6.5 million.
Ohio State University Extension coordinated this collaborative project that included U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, United States Geological Survey, Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, state and county Emergency Management Agencies, and Noble and Washington Counties. This decade-long project illustrates the role Extension can plays in strengthening communities and the environment.
(Submitted by Darlene Lukshin, Program Specialist, Washington County and Buckeye Hills EERA)