Jerusalem Twp.: Trustees brace for flooding

By Larry Limpf

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, reasons David Bench, a Jerusalem Township trustee.
Eying a rising Lake Erie and an aging, eroding dike system, township officials have been stockpiling sand bags to try to limit flooding this spring and summer.
Bench said residents should contact the township office if they would like to receive sandbags. The phone number is 419-836-8921. Residents may also visit the township website which lists the cell phone numbers of the trustees.
“We got lucky. We ran out of sand bags and all three trustees were looking for an easier way to do this,” Bench said. “I just happened to ask Toledo Alfalfa Mills and they said they would do it. The Army Corps of Engineers provides the bags. The machine weighs the sand. That’s critical because the bag has to sit just right, it can’t be too full. And rather than being tied, these bags are sewn shut.”
He credits a township resident, George Coker, for modifying the machinery to accommodate the bags that were filled. About 1,100 were filled initially and the trustees planned to add more last week.
“The lake is really up,” Bench said. “I usually judge it by the Howard Road bridge at Route 2. You can’t see underneath it anymore. For most of the year you could, so if we get some heavy winds we would have some problems.”
Two years ago, Bench walked about six miles of the dike system with personnel from the Buffalo District of the corps of engineers. At the time he said he was particularly concerned about several areas where the system was being undercut – with the worst being in the area of Bono Road and Wards Canal.
An earthen spur dike project completed last year by Metroparks Toledo at the Howard Marsh Metropark will help provide some relief if there is a breach at a dike on the north of Wards Canal, he said.
Mark Sattler, a trustee, told The Press last year the addition of the spur dike would limit damage in that area.
“If the dike between Howard Road and State Rt. 2 that extends around Wards Canal out to the lake were to fail, the spur dike would connect that opening. Any water that would flow in would be stopped by the internal dike system. So there would be a very narrow stretch that would be flooded, but it would not get into our neighborhoods,” he said.
Bench said last week the township has petitioned to have Cedar Creek cleared. Some of the dirt from that project could be used to bolster some of the dikes.
Also, the township has a contingency plan that includes private contractors with heavy equipment such as bulldozers and dump trucks to contain a breach.
“If we called them they would be here in an hour,” Bench said. “All the trustees and everyone in the township are working together to try to solve this problem. It’s been neglected for years and years and now the water is as high as it’s ever been. Not just here but all along the lake.”


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