Columbiana rains not severe enough for federal assistance but state help may be available

COLUMBIANA –The recent heavy rainfalls have taken a toll on the city, but not enough where it qualifies for federal assistance.

City Manager Lance Willard told City Council at this week’s meeting the July 7 storm dumped nearly three inches of rain within an hour, mostly in the southeast part of town and the Cimarron housing development in particular. He said this downpour was somewhere between a 200-year rain event and 500-year rain event. A rain event is described as a statistical way of expressing the probability of something happening once within a certain time frame.

Although a local TV station reported about several residents with water in their basements and yards, Willard said they never received a single complaint. For the city to qualify for federal assistance, a minimum of 25 homes would either have to be destroyed or sustained major damage.

Willard learned they were eligible to seek assistance through the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and will apply for funding as part of the city’s continuing efforts to make storm sewer improvements in the southeastern part of town and areas of town.

Some of the roads there were under 18 inches of water or more, which was more than storm sewers could handle. “I’ve never seen the roads flooded as bad as they were,” said Willard, who has been employed by the city since 2001.

He also reported about the efforts to find and repair the major waterline break that occurred last Saturday night. The alarms at the water treatment plant first alerted officials at 2:30 a.m. about the spike in production but the leak was not discovered until about 11 hours later. A six-inch line along state Route 14 was found to have cracked at the bottom, and the repair was completed by 4 p.m. Saturday.

Willard said they lost more than 500,000 gallons of water, which would have been enough to force the old water plant to shut down. The new treatment plant is capable of pumping 2.2 million gallons of water per day, with the city using 600,000 to 700,000 gallons per day.

He said it was truly a team effort, with every city department playing a role in helping try to find the leak, even the police department.

In other business at the meeting:

— Willard reported resurfacing of all state routes within the city has begun. The cost is $1.7 million, with the Ohio Department of Transportation paying for all but $365,000, which is the city’s share.

— Willard reported five new hydrants are to be installed at the cemetery, which will once again allow water to flow from faucets for use by relatives and others tending to graves.

— Council agreed to seek voter renewal of a 2-mill fire levy by voting to place it on the Nov. 5 ballot. The levy runs for five years and costs the owner of a $100,000 home $61 a year in property taxes.

— Council had no objection to the transfer of the liquor license at the El Paso Mexican Grille. The Mexican restaurant recently changed ownership from Juan Alvarez to Javier and Katilynn Ibarra.

— Councilman Rick Noel took the opportunity to praise Chamber of Commerce Director April Brinker for being so aggressive in promoting the business community. “I go to meetings and people tell me, ‘We can’t get our chamber to do anything,'” he said.