Local residents woke up Friday morning to unexpected flooding caused by torrential rains that fell north of U.S. Route 36 overnight. West Liberty-Salem schools were forced to close due to high water on roadways and commercial buildings in the village of West Liberty were at water’s edge by morning. Riverside Local Schools in DeGraff also closed, but graduation on Friday evening was to take place as planned, according to the Riverside website.
Many residents and travelers were caught off-guard on the Friday morning commute, unaware that the area had suffered a heavy rain event on top of ground well-saturated by an unusually wet, cold spring.
Parts of the village of West Liberty were hit hard by rising water, according to drone footage and photos posted to social media. Commenters noted yards and basements in the Pickrelltown Road and Linden and Race Street areas were flooded. At least one family reportedly had to leave their home due to flooding. Photos showed Lions Park on the village’s east side flooded.
According to the West Liberty Police Department, the Logan County Emergency Management Agency was on site Friday afternoon evaluating the flood damage. Affected residents can call the Logan County EMA at 937-593-5743 for information and assistance. The police, fire, street and water departments were working to assist as many residents as possible. Police noted they responded to numerous calls of children playing in the waters at Lions Park.
“They are putting their lives at risk, and potentially the lives of first responders,” according to the police statement.
Piatt Castles informed their followers Mac-O-Chee Castle will be closed on Saturday due flooding in the parking lot. Mac-O-Chee is planning to reopen Sunday, weather permitting. Mac-A-Cheek Castle “is high and dry and will be open this weekend and the garage sale is still on for 5/18.” The village of West Liberty has a Community Garage Sale scheduled for Saturday.
Urbana tallied 3 inches of rain in just a few hours, but heavier rain amounts were recorded in Bellefontaine and parts of Logan County. As the water drained north to south, Mad River and its tributaries in Champaign County began to swell and spill over into fields and on roadways.
Champaign County Engineer Stephen McCall on Friday morning said his crews hoped to have flood debris removed from county roadways by day’s end, but anticipated more flooding due to already saturated ground and more predicted rain to come.
“We currently have a number of locations that will be closed,” he said. “There are probably over a dozen locations where debris has been washed out onto the road.”
McCall said his crews were placing barricades at roads and bridges closed due to flooding. He said closed bridges included the Clark Road bridge just north of state Route 296.
State highways affected by flooding
Ohio Department of Transportation crews were out checking roadways and placing barricades where needed on Friday, according to Mandi Dillon, ODOT District 7 public information officer.
In Champaign County on Friday morning, barricades blocked state Route 559 between U.S. Route 36 and state Route 161; state Route 814 at Stone Quarry Road; and U.S. 36 between state Routes 4 and 559. Routes 559, 814 and 36 were reopened by Friday afternoon, according to ODOT.
Flooding in nearby counties closed the following roads:
– In Logan County, state Route 245 between township Road 1011 and state Road 117; and state Road 287 between state Roads 245 and 347.
– In Shelby County, state Route 274 between township Road 23 and state Route 235.
ODOT advises drivers not to drive through flooded areas.
While traveling on Friday morning, motorists reported flooding on U.S. Route 36 near the eastern border of Champaign County; Mad River spilling over its banks onto state Route 55 at the bridge (but not enough for ODOT to close Route 55); flooding in fields and residential areas along U.S. Route 68 between West Liberty and Urbana; flooding on township roads on the north side of Champaign County that prevented farmers from tending to their livestock; and the usual high water in the area of state Route 560 at Nettle Creek Road with flooding in the township cemetery at the corner.