PDT Staff Writer
Motorists on Sunday were forced to detour around — or in some cases, drive through — several feet of flood water after a sudden rainstorm in Portsmouth.
Scioto County Emergency Management Agency Director Kim Carver said Portsmouth saw a large influx of rain in a very short time, which she said nearly always results in flooding.
“The downtown area got .94 inches in about 20 minutes,” Carver said. “The storm sewer system has to have some time to catch up. And when they get inundated like that, you get the situations like they had there on (U.S.) 52 at the underpass.”
“The 16th Street underpass off Waller Street was flooded, then the highways at 11th and 12th streets were also flooded,” Portsmouth City Wastewater Director Rick Duncan said. “Those are low spots. They’re lower than our sewers, and those have to be pumped out with pumps that pump out that storm water into the (Ohio) River.”
Duncan said sometimes when the city gets a really heavy downpour it takes a while for the city’s pumps to catch up, and that is what happened Sunday afternoon.
“Sometimes there’s power failures that can cause that flooding. We did not have any power failures over the weekend,” Duncan said. “It was just a matter of there being so much flow it just took a while for the pumps to catch up and pump it out.”
Duncan said the pumps in the low-lying areas work automatically with a flotation device, much like a sump pump. Once the water reaches a certain level, the float kicks the pump on and it pumps the water into the river.
“We did have our flood defense call out man out,” Duncan said. “He was there and he did make sure the pumps were working right.”
Duncan said the city’s Weir Gates are only used if the river is up. “If the river is up, we have to close the gates to keep the river from coming into the city. When the river is down, like it is now, we don’t have to worry about the gates. The gates are down.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.