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Officials watch the Vermilion River closely for flooding as temperatures rise

Posted at 10:00 AM, Jan 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-12 07:41:43-05

Officials are closely watching the Vermilion River as temperatures reach into the 50s and rain is in the forecast. 

“The last two days have provided just a mild thaw which is good. We do know that the water itself is flowing well under the ice, but the situation could drastically change depending how much rain we get and how much runoff we do have,” said Vermilion Police Sgt. Gordon Adams. 

Adams, who also serves as Harbor Master, monitored the river overnight. Right now, he does not think there is any reason for residents and business owners along the river to be alarmed. A company is expected to break up the mouth sometime Thursday afternoon. That way, if the river breaks, the ice can flow out to the lake. 

“The best solution of all is to let nature run its course, but sometimes she needs a little help,” said Vermilion Mayor Jim Forthofer. 

In February 2014, broken ice jams flooded homes and businesses leading some residents to be rescued. Although Forthofer says conditions are nowhere near that, he thinks it’s best to be proactive. He’s also warning residents to stay off the ice. 

“As recently as last weekend, we had ATVs and snowmobiles zipping down the river which we never encourage under any circumstance, but it’s now time to stay off the river for good,” said Forthofer.

Vermilion officials watched the river closely Thursday, with the warm-up and some rain throughout the day.

A crane is temporarily placed alongside the canal to break up the ice.

"They're contracted throughout the year and throughout the cold season to keep the mouth of the river open. And they do the best they can, but at some point, it's gonna freeze up and we will just do the best we can," Vermilion police chief Chris Hartung told News 5.

The residents who live along the water may be the only Northeast Ohioans breathing a sigh of relief for the freeze returning Friday.