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High water, ice jams temporarily shut down neighborhoods near Vermilion River

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Posted at 5:38 PM, Feb 17, 2022

VERMILION, Ohio — Ice jams and flooding concerns put neighbors along the Vermilion River and nearby emergency crews on high alert Thursday.

Large chunks from a dislodged ice jam block Riverside Drive in Vermilion.

Around 9 a.m. Thursday, Bill and Genevieve Everett said they could see an ice jam upstream from their home on Riverside Drive. The blockage forced the river out of its banks near the Vermilion River Reservation and flooded low-lying areas and a bridge dissecting Mill Hollow and Bacon Woods Metro Parks.

When the ice jam broke later in the morning, it unleashed large chunks of ice downstream, onto yards, patios, and anything else near the riverbank.

“When the water’s really high and it rains too much or we get ice floes like this, it takes its toll,” said Genevieve Everett.

The Everett couple moved into their riverfront home close to 24 years ago.

“Summertime is gorgeous,” Genevieve Everett said. “It makes it worth it every time when you see the kayakers and canoers and everybody.”

In mid-February, the view is drastically different. In years with fluctuating temperatures and heavy precipitation, they keep a close eye on the forecast and river level.

“This is the ugly side,” Everett said.

“You learn to put stuff up. But the mud’s the worst thing because if you don’t get to the mud right away, it turns into Elmer’s glue,” said Bill Everett, who was clearing mud out of his garage with a hose and squeegee.

When the river reaches flood stage and ice jams are imminent, the couple moves their cars to an elevated section of the neighborhood to prepare for road closures. Thursday, flooding submerged some roads and ice chunks blocked other sections. Emergency crews stood watch at the top of the neighborhood in case they were needed for water rescues.

Fortunately, the Vermilion Police Department said its only flood-related call for service Thursday afternoon was to help pull out a van stuck in mud in the Riverside Drive neighborhood.

The Everetts acknowledged the flooding and ice jam concerns are a reality of living near the river. They said neighbors stay in contact and offer help to each other.

“I just texted all of my neighbors and said, ‘Later we’re collecting ice to have drinks,’” Genevieve Everett said. “I guess you expect it, you deal with it, clean it up, and wait for spring.”

Emergency responders in the Vermilion area plan to monitor the river for more ice jams and potential flooding.

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