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Breaking the Cycle of Devastation and Reducing Damages, Southern Ohio

MEIGS COUNTY, OH - Since 1964, Ohio has received 28 Presidential disaster declarations—22 of which were for flooding. To address the issue of flood risk, the State of Ohio has taken aggressive measures to assess areas of vulnerability and reduce the impact of flooding to those areas.

In 1990, Ohio implemented a state-wide hazard mitigation plan. The state has developed numerous mitigation programs and projects in conjunction with the federal government, under the supervision of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. The acquisition project in Meigs County demonstrates that an investment in mitigation can be fully returned within only one or two subsequent floods.

The Village of Rutland sits five miles from the Ohio River’s edge in south central Meigs County. Most of the village properties were over 50 years old, and most were susceptible to flash flooding from nearby creeks. The January floods of 1996 prompted the village to apply for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to fund an acquisition project.

The project involved the acquisition and demolition of 22 structures, elevating nine structures, relocating four structures, and retrofitting two structures. The estimated cost was just over $1 million. Although the project was approved in 1997, the area was subjected to heavy flooding prior to the start of the project, which was completed in 1999.

Thanks to the mitigation project, Lilly Kennedy’s home, flooded every year since 1995, was eight feet higher than in 1997, when first floor flooding reached a depth of four feet. When flooding occurred again in February of 2000, floodwater came up to nearly three feet around the foundation of Lilly’s house, but never threatened the interior of her home or her belongings. “This last time,” exclaims Lilly, “I just stood and watched as the water came up, knowing all the time that my son and I were safe.”

Last updated June 3, 2020