Aug. 11: How one town grew from a flood

Joe Gies, who turned a 500-year flood into a better future for his hometown in north-central Ohio, speaks Aug. 11 at Ohio State as part of the Environmental Professionals Network Breakfast Club series.

The network is a service of the School of Environment and Natural Resources in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Gies is project coordinator for Shelby, Ohio, which in 2007 saw historic flooding from the Black Fork River.

Afterward, Gies helped the city get funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to reduce future flooding damage. Redevelopment efforts included buying and tearing down more than 50 flood-damaged homes and several downtown buildings, then developing a master plan for the newly created green space. Projects include a downtown park called Black Fork Commons, riverside walking trails and an amphitheater.

“We wanted to turn the Black Fork River area from an area that was a source of devastation into a positive resource for our community,” then-Shelby Mayor Marilyn John said in a report published by FEMA.

“It was a great deal of work, but I felt satisfaction knowing we took many families out of harm’s way,” Gies said in the same report.

Gies later earned accreditation from the Association of State Floodplain Managers as a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) and in 2012 won the Ohio Floodplain Management Association’s Floodplain Administrator of the Year Award for his planning efforts for Shelby.

His talk at Ohio State is called “Engaging the Community to Effectively Balance Environmental, Economic and Social Needs in Floodplain Utilization.” Introducing him will be Alicia Silverio, CFM, senior environmental specialist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Soil and Water Resources.

The event is 7:15-9:20 a.m. in the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive on Ohio State’s Columbus campus.

Registration, which includes a full breakfast, is $10 and is open to both members of the network and the public. The cost is $15 if paid by credit card. The deadline to register is Aug. 7.

Find full program details and a link to online registration at

The event’s sponsors are the New Albany-based engineering and surveying firm EMH&T, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, and the Chagrin Falls-based Water Management Association of Ohio.

Membership in the network is free and open to anyone who works in or studies an environmental field. Learn more at

For more information on membership or the event, contact David Hanselmann, a lecturer in the school and the network’s coordinator, at or 614-247-1908.

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