Fort Wayne is uniquely positioned on three rivers. The rivers are tied to the area’s oldest history and continue to be a natural resource for our City. However there can be a downside to our abundant water source: flooding.
Some Waynedale neighborhoods and others along the St. Mary’s River were among the hardest hit areas from the recent flooding. However the City’s crews and residents were committed to holding back the water and minimizing property damage.
We used more than 30,000 sandbags and 125 truckloads of clay to protect homes and businesses. Using data collected from the 2003 and 2005 floods, our experienced flood-control team was able to quickly mobilize clay levees and sandbag placement. We had crews in the field and in the Emergency Operations Center around the clock for more than 3 days.
Our strategy during a flood is to protect the most homes as quickly as possible. This is why we focus first on areas most in danger with the most homes or businesses. During this flood, we focused on Park Avenue and Waldron Circle area, Calhoun and Kenosha, Calhoun and Tillman, the Bella Vista neighborhood, Woodhurst and Southwood Park, and areas in the center or near-north side of the City including Berry and Thieme, and Eastbrook-Westbrook.
In addition to sandbags and temporary levees, the city also had more than 30 pumps strategically placed throughout the city. The pumps helped remove standing water and sewers, eventually clearing streets.
And while flooding will never fully go away in Fort Wayne, we do have long-term plans to control the flooding along the St. Mary’s. We already have permanent levees and dikes under construction in Foster Park along Southwood Park and Woodhurst. We’ll continue to build permanent projects in the coming years.
Anyone with property damage due to the floods or high water, including flooded basements, should report the damage to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The department’s toll-free number is (866) 210-1925. It is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
One other very effective flood-control strategy is voluntary buyouts. The City’s optional buyouts from the past few years on Winchester Road, the Junk Ditch area, Tillman Road and other locations were critical in this year’s flood. We will continue to look at voluntary buyouts in flood-prone areas. If you have a home in one of these areas, please contact the City’s 311 Call Center to have your name added to our list as we look at strategic buyouts.
I would also like to thank all the volunteers who helped the City. We can’t fight floods effectively without residents’ help. Fort Wayne has such a wonderful volunteer spirit about it, and I saw it first-hand this month. Thank you to all the City employees and volunteers who worked day and night to save homes and businesses. We couldn’t have been successful without you.
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