There are no reports of anyone getting ready to break out the flood gates in order to shield the city from its greatest natural resource but also its greatest potential natural enemy, namely the Ohio River.
Nevertheless, the National Weather Service in Wilmington, which serves this area, has said a flood warning for the Ohio at Portsmouth will stay in effect until at least Wednesday evening.
At 10 a.m., Monday, the weather service reported the river at Portsmouth was sitting at 51.2 feet.
Flood stage is 50 feet.
Portsmouth City Manager Sam Sutherland was not immediately available for contact Monday afternoon. However, there were no reports of any serious flooding in the city.
The weather service warned at stages near 51 feet, low-lying flooding occurs along the southern border of Scioto County, as well as in South Portsmouth, Ky. As of Monday afternoon, State Routes 73 and 239 were closed near the Ohio River, the weather service said.
Again, according to the weather service, the Ohio was expected to crest at 51.8 feet around 1 a.m. Tuesday. At stages near 53.0 feet, backwater flooding on tributaries occurs, with low lying impacts and flooding of some county roads. Riverfront homes near Shannoah Lane and near Ziegler Lane become surrounded by water with some homes flooded by several feet of water.
Weather service predictions show the river falling fairly quickly throughout Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening. The river should dip below flood stage by Wednesday afternoon
By way of comparison, last year, when city officials ordered the Portsmouth floodgates erected for the first time in two decades, the river reached a maximum of 55.3 feet on Feb. 20. For the record, according to the weather service, the Ohio River at Portsmouth reached its highest level ever during the famous 1937 floods, peaking at 74.2 feet in January of that year.
Portsmouth’s other major waterway, the Scioto River, is well below flood stage, according to the weather service. For the Scioto, the nearest weather service gauge sits in Piketon. Flood stage for the Scioto at Piketon is 20 feet. But the river was expected to crest at only 15.3 feet at about 1 p.m. Monday.
Portsmouth’s nearest neighbor, the Village of New Boston, has been experiencing some weather-related problems, according to Village Administrator Steve Hamilton. Hamilton said the village saw some Street flooding last week on Tuesday and Wednesday. Affected areas included State Route 52 near the village corporation limit, along with a few other spots.
As of Monday afternoon, Hamilton said the village is operating several emergency pumping stations around the village. He added those stations will remain manned by three workers completing 12 hour shifts for as long as the Ohio River sits near 50 feet. New Boston experienced numerous problems with the pumps, or its flood defense system, last year.
Hamilton indicated some damaged village pumps still have not been replaced, adding New Boston still is waiting on disaster relief funds promised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In one location, Hamilton said the village is using four portable pumps to take the place of one damaged permanent pump.
Kim Carver is director of the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency. Last week, Carver told the Daily Times during the recent heavy rains and accompanying flooding along lower lying areas near the Ohio River, FEMA officials told New Boston to rent pumps in order to prevent the extensive flooding they experienced when pumps failed in 2018. According to Carver, FEMA promised the federal government would reimburse the village for the cost of renting those pumps, the reason being FEMA still has not provided funds to repair and replace the pumps that failed last year.
According to both Carver and Hamilton, FEMA is using a new fund delivery system. Carver complained the new process might be the “slowest paying disaster relief process” she’s seen in 30 years with SCEMA.
Hamilton talked about how after previous disaster occurrences, FEMA would send inspectors to an area and local jurisdictions would work directly with those inspectors. The new system apparently has local officials dealing with a computer portal and submitting paperwork which Hamilton said ends up in places such as Texas or Georgia before being processed. He did say the village did recently receive some FEMA money, though he did not say how much New Boston had received nor how much more it expects to receive.
In a press release, village officials did warn New Boston residents of changes in their trash pickup dates due to the fact service workers have been temporarily reassigned to flood defense. If your normal garbage pickup is Tuesday, it will instead be picked up Thursday. If your garbage pickup day is normally Thursday, you will need to hang onto your trash until Friday.
In March, a formal preliminary damage assessment saw local jurisdictions turn in more than $4 million in costs for response and recovery efforts related to the 2018 flooding.