VERMILION TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) — As powerful thunderstorms pounded Northeast Ohio on Saturday, there was a sense of dread among homeowners living along State Route 60 in Erie County’s Vermilion Township, because they knew flooding was not only likely, it was inevitable.
In fact, they say for more than a decade, their neighborhood floods like clockwork whenever there is significant rain fall, because the shallow drainage ditches in their front yards are overwhelmed by the rain that flows downhill along Route 60 toward their properties.
Vermilion Township resident Nancy Sauer told FOX 8, “Anxiety because you just know you’re going to get it, you just know, and there’s nothing we can do. You can watch the water come up, but there’s not a thing you can do.”
For those residents with basements, the persistent flooding along Route 60 has forced them to replace everything from furnaces to hot water tanks to furniture several times over the years.
“It’s very costly and I’m to the point, I’m ready to just walk away, it’s that frustrating because I’m tired of just forking out the money,” said Township Resident Ron Horvath. Nancy Sauer added, “we are not in a flood plain, so we can’t get flood insurance, and insurance says, ‘you take care of it, it’s yours.’”
Frustrated residents eventually decided to create their own neighborhood organization, and after contacting elected officials from Erie County and Vermilion Township, they discovered the agency responsible for the drainage ditches along Route 60 is the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Residents have pleaded with ODOT to place a priority on finding a solution to the flooding problem.
“They said ‘Oh, we’re working on it, we’ll get it done, we’ll get it taken care of.’ I told them ‘there’s a meeting here at my house, be here,’” said Sauer.
While ODOT acknowledged the problem, state administrators told residents that no work can be done on the drainage ditches until the state secures federal funding, and that would require a series of studies that could take more than two years to complete.
Homeowners say it is unreasonable to expect them to live with the consistent flooding for that much longer, and they are urging ODOT to put the drainage project on a fast track.
“Get off your high horse and get busy,” said Ron Horvath. Nancy Sauer added, “We can’t wait two years, we just can’t, our houses are falling in.”
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