Rising Ohio River 'does what it wants to do'

More floodgates go up, more roads close
More floodgates go up along Ohio River
More floodgates go up along Ohio River
Posted at 2:36 PM, Feb 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-20 19:22:54-05

CINCINNATI -- More floodgates and roads closed Tuesday as the Ohio River crept toward the crest of its most recent flood.

In the Queensgate neighborhood west of downtown Cincinnati, crews installed floodgates on Mehring Way and Carr Street. Mehring is blocked between the Sixth Street Expressway and Freeman Avenue.

Newport installed floodgates at Columbia Street, near the Taylor Southgate Bridge.

MAP: Road closures due to Ohio River flooding

Debbie Zimmerman has spent decades in the city's East End neighborhood: She's been in her house on Setchell Street since 1979, and she lived next door as a child. The water crept closer Tuesday, but it wasn't anywhere near the worst flooding she's seen. When she was a child, she remembered being rescued from a second-story window by the fire department.

"I think you never get used to it, but you’re used to it -- you know what I'm saying?" she said.

Ken Welsh and his wife, Debbie, also live in the East End. The built on the river, and their home's designed to withstand floods. The first floor is a garage, so they could just house it down if need be.

"It does what it wants to do," Welsh said, "and that's why it's exciting to live on a river."

Debbie and Ken Welsh look out at the flooded Ohio River. (Photo by Tom McKee | WCPO

Boating and gambling were no-go propositions: Manhattan Harbor in Dayton, Kentucky closed because of high water. So was Belterra Park Gaming along Kellogg Avenue across the river. Floodwater also reached the top of the Serpentine Wall at Yeatman's Cove in Cincinnati.

But learning didn't take a break: Students at Riverview East Academy in the East End relocated to Jacobs Center for classes. Flooding's an expected part of life at Riverview, which is built on stilts along Kellogg. But some were concerned about the conditions at Jacobs Center, prompting Principal Charlene Myers to send out a letter about the facility's "cleanliness standards."

The Ohio River is expected to crest at 55.5 feet Wednesday, a bit lower than expected. It will then fall below flood stage early Friday afternoon. A Flood Warning remains in effectthrough Friday evening.

While those levels may fluctuate, experts' advice is constant: stay out of the water. The biggest concern is the mess of floating debris, things like bottles and branches.


Dr. Steven Englender, with the Cincinnati Health Department, said that's true even after the river recedes.

"You got to be safe you got to be careful with how you clean up debris, watch out for sharp objects," he said.

The heath department advises wearing gloves, boots and goggles during cleanup, and using soap and water to clear away mud and grime. Mold can be an issue, too, "drying a place out, cleaning toys, getting someone professional to clean carpets or toss them out," Englender said.