Threat of Flash Floods Rises

By Megan Trent

March 6, 2011 Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 4:30 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - We're not out of the woods yet as far as local flooding is concerned. Many rivers have begun to recede, but officials continue to keep a close eye on others.

Along Cedar Creek in Auburn, the Maumee River Basin Commission has been buying properties that are at risk of flooding since 1999. So far they've purchased eight homes, but officials say it's making a difference.

Rod Renkenberger is Executive Director of the Maumee River Basin Commission. He says, "As we're buying these homes out in this area, it opens that area up for additional flood water storage and helps reduce those future flood crests."

How do they get the money to buy those homes? Renkenberger says primarily through government grants - both pre and post disaster.

"You don't want to wish for floods, but the advantage to having a flood is if we receive a presidential disaster declaration, that opens up the flood gates for additional funding. And we try to jump on that and apply for those grants to buy more homes."

Fortunately, flooding this weekend was less than expected.

"Snow is your best friend yesterday and today," says Renkenberger. "As the rain switched to snow yesterday, obviously the snow is holding the moisture on the ground and staying on top of the ground today. That definitely retards the amount of run off reaching our area rivers."

And with more rain and possibly snow expected this week, Renkenberger says the threat of flash floods is increasing. "We're now to the point of pretty much saturated ground. You're going to see a lot more flashiness amongst the rivers. It's not going to take near as much rainfall to make them pop up and down now."

In addition to watching the forecast, experts are also monitoring river levels.

"The Saint Joseph and the Maumee - it looks like they're going to crest sometime Monday. The Saint Mary's in Decatur is not expected to crest until Tuesday, and then the Saint Mary's in Fort Wayne looks like it's going to end up cresting today and starting to drop pretty rapidly."

In Allen County, Fort Wayne city officials say homes in the north part of the area are fairly well protected from flooding, and so efforts will be concentrated around the Saint Mary's in the southern part of Fort Wayne.

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