Two Greater Cincinnati agencies partner to bring awareness on flooding, impacts
CINCINNATI (WKRC) "It's become our new normal in Hamilton County to have these intense rain events, and it's becoming part of the problem," said Emily Lakamp, the Training and Exercise Specialist for Hamilton County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.
Hamilton County has dealt with several rounds of flash flooding since last summer, and two local agencies are teaming up to bring awareness to local flooding and its impacts.
Metropolian Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati Communications Manager Deb Leonard said, "To help educate our customers, we're launching a joint campaign with the Hamilton County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. The aim of the campaign is to help our customers understand how to prevent flooding and sewer backups, protect their posessions, and respond when an event occurs."
The agencies cite research on increasing rainfall rates in the Ohio Valley as reason for the campaign.
Leonard explained, "U.S. EPA and other agencies say that rain intensity is on the rise. In fact, our region has seen a 37% increase in rainfall intensity over the last 10 years."
The campaign also focuses on the difference in overland flooding - rainwater entering homes through windows, doors, and foundation cracks - and sewer backups - sewage entering homes through piping and drains. Development over the last several decades means sewers are getting overwhelmed more frequently.
"Our sewer system is old to very cold. In some places, it's over 200 years old. It was built at a time when we had a lot less development, and when the rain fell, it soaked up into the earth. Now, we're in a totally different place," said Leonard.
Prevention steps - like cleaning gutters and waterproofing your home - and protection steps - like purchasing flood insurance and elevating basement appliances and belongings - are also encouraged. The number of flooding events is a driver for the campaign and a great reason to plan and prepare.
Lakamp explained, "We've just been seeing multiple instances of people out of their homes, home really being ruined by flood events and their basements, people's personal items. It's just been a really emotional pull for us to get involved in this as well to just help Hamilton County residents."
While the rain can't be stopped, education and awareness will help the Tri-State be better prepared for the next round of rain.
"This is going to be an ongoing public education campaign. We're going to do it every single year and throughout the year. We're hoping to have a flood awareness month - hopefully in April - so we can really get this started and that Hamilton County residents are prepared for large rain events," said Lakamp.
Learn more about the campaign - including the difference between overland flooding and sewer backup - here.