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Flooding fears concerning Beechmont Levee
CINCINNATI (Rich Jaffe) -- Vowing to get to the bottom of the issue, Cincinnati City Council's Budget and Finance committee calls a couple of city officials onto the carpet.
Tuesday afternoon they wanted to find out why council didn't know about flooding and finance concerns centered around the Beechmont Levee. That's the earthen dam that protects the valley between Mt. Washington and Mt. Lookout.
It turns out, the issue is actually old news, but an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer Tuesday morning had the head of Budget and Finance demanding an investigation! This is the article that got everybody fired up; on the front page, the headline says, "Lunken Levee Inquiry Sought."
Budget and Finance chair, Charlie Winburn, says the issue involves homeowners in Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, Turpin Hills and the East End among other places. The problem is, it doesn't. There's really no need for the inquiry because this is really old news.
Late Tuesday morning we found Larry Marthaler being a good neighbor and digging out some parking spots on Wilmer Court. Larry and some of his neighbors are concerned that they may soon have to shell out big bucks for flood insurance.
Larry Marthaler said, "Like I said I read in the paper I thought man, there ain't no way they're not gonna make me buy it. I been here and I know I ain't never had a flood or nothing. I'll take my chances. If it floods I'll pay for it but that's silly to keep giving money away."
The article Larry's talking about prompted Cincinnati council member and chairman of the Budget and Finance committee, Charlie Winburn, to hold a hearing about the situation. The concern is that the Behmont Levee is anywhere from one to three feet too low to meet federal flood standards. When Winburn was contacted by a reporter he got concerned.
Winburn said, "They informed us about subject matter we knew nothing about. So we're gonna find out today why we knew nothing about it."
The committee called in the flood program chief and the head of transportation and engineering but what they found was, it was all water under the bridge...or levee....years ago.
Amit Ghosh from Buildings and Inspections said, "We either had to fix the levy or take deacreditation. So city council was notified by the city manager on May 9th 2008."
Committee members were told rather than hundreds of homes, the issue really only affected about 30 residences and a number of businesses. Some of the city council members wondered aloud why homeowners were getting all stirred up and why they were even wasting time on the issue.
City council member, Wendell Young, said, "To me this has not been productive time. So what I would make certain of is when we ask administration to come that we make the best use of their time that taxpayers get the best bang for their buck."
Now while there are some very valid flood insurance concerns coming out of FEMA in many communities since Katrina, this is not one of them. This was evidently resolved years ago it's just that some city council members weren't aware of it. The guys with the answers were asked to prepare a not-so-full report and get back to council with it in two weeks.