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Flooding repairs coming to Barberton while city officials look for more long-term solutions

Posted at 10:53 PM, Mar 03, 2020

BARBERTON, Ohio — Last summer, Barberton was under water as homes, businesses, and streets flooded.

It's an issue people who live there say they've been dealing with for more than a decade.

But according to Mayor William Judge, a fix is finally be on the way.

“We’re trying to mitigate flooding from various perspectives," he said. “This is no easy fix. It’s not an inexpensive fix but it’s something that is a major priority.”

Water flows constantly outside of Joyce Coburn’s home.

“We’ve had 13 floods,” Coburn said. “We’ve actually gotten in a canoe at the second step off of our porch.”

Coburn, a city councilwoman who represents Ward 5, lives on 14th Street. The street sits in the lowest part of Barberton. She says because of that flooding is inevitable.

“Each time I have said we’re moving out," she said.

She said the worst flooding happened in 2013. That year, floodwater filled her basement.

“We had seven feet of water in our basement, two and a half foot around the property. We were here from Wednesday to Friday unable to leave,” she said.

Coburn says the flooding hit during the same time frame she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

“They towed our car. I stepped outside and got stung by a bee and the mailman brought me jury duty all in the same five days,” she said. “I’ve had four furnaces replaced in 20 years, six hot water heaters, four washers and dryers [and] one freezer.”

Her home is one of several the city can purchase using the FEMA grant money it received last fall, but she says no formal offers have been made.

“We don’t know what those offers are going to be and we still have the option to opt out of those offers if they’re not something we can accept,” she said. “We are hoping we are going to be able to accept it.”

Judge says it’s why solving the city’s flooding issue is a priority.

“We’re kind of hitting it from all fronts.”

According to Judge, the city has already spent nearly a million dollars with the help of grants on potential flooding fixes this year alone. He says his office is working with FEMA and the governor to come up with long term solutions.

“The problem is there is no singular project that will stop flooding. Mother nature will always win,” Judge said.

Judge says in a few weeks work will being on expanding the city’s retention pond to help hold back storm water from spilling into Wolf Creek.

“We also are installing four new storm sewers on 5th St NE on the east side. There’s no storm sewers in that area so this will really help alleviate some of the hard rains that we have and some of the water that’s being directed down the street. We’re waiting for that project to get underway,” he said. “There’s other ongoing projects that we’re working with FEMA and the Governor’s office with so a lot of it is on other timetables, but a lot of action this year and a lot of action being planned for the net few years.”

Meanwhile, Randy Hall, who lives right behind Coburn, is doing all he can to keep water from flowing into his home.

“We really didn’t know the extent of it how bad it could get,” he told News 5.

RELATED: Residents in Barberton evacuate from their homes after heavy rains flood homes, streets