The City doesn’t seem to want to quit messing up the banks of the St. Marys River. After the Flood of 2003, the City requested a Section 205 Study of the St. Marys River for the purpose of deciding where more levees, walls, and earthen berms would be slapped up. A Section 205 Study of the Flood Control Act of 1948 as amended is a partnered effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – which doesn’t have exactly the best reputation for its plans – and a governmental entity. In this case, the governmental entity was the City of Fort Wayne – also known as a sponsoring agency.
The Section 205 study was released in February 2005 with “recommendations” as to four different areas prone to flooding along the St. Marys. One of the recommendations – which I oppose and have since the Study was released – impacts the river and Thieme Drive just across from my home.
A project which I suspect is still in the back of the minds of the City planners is to erect a god-awful concrete wall along Thieme Drive in West Central where I live. This is the “cup” area – as I call it – that floods at the intersection of Thieme Drive, Nelson Street, and West Berry Street.
The water does not come into the several homes that are impacted, which were built high enough that the water remains lower than the first floors of the homes. The flooding is certainly an annoyance, but it is not critical enough to call for the destruction of one of the only river drives left in Fort Wayne.
Thieme Drive, Nelson Street, and West Berry Street
As to the other projects, the City is well on its way to implementing the Study’s recommendations regardless of the impact on other areas along the river. The City recently completed the 5400 foot levee and wall project extending from the Airport Freeway to Hartman Road along the east side of the St. Marys River.
Another project is now going full steam ahead, and that project will be constructed at the Park-Thompson area along the St. Marys River.
Here is the issue and my concern – every time a wall, levee, or berm is erected, it shoves water somewhere else. Water finds a way around barriers. Each time the City takes a short-term approach which, granted, generates “oohs and ahs” of relief for some areas, residents of other areas are subjected to increased concerns about displaced river waters. Unless the City frees up some storage area to provide a relocation area for displaced waters, the chances that another area will flood more extensively are increased.
St. Marys River, Flood of 1982 – Photo Credit: News-Sentinel
After the Flood of 1982, the Corps and the City undertook several phases to wall in the City’s rivers. A final phase was built to protect the Nebraska neighborhood – a section of the City lying to the west of downtown and accessible by the Main Street bridge. Since the completion of that phase in 2001, my area has flooded four times in five and a half years: July 2003, June 2004, January 2005, and February 2008.
I have lived in my home now since 1995 – 14 years this month, and prior to 2003, the area rarely flooded. But after completion of the Corps’ projects, this area has flooded several times in just a few years. Now with the City’s continued straight-jacketing of the St. Marys River with its additional projects, I suspect that we will see an increasing number of floods in certain areas.
And what will the City’s response be? Why, to try to put up more walls and levees – the process is never-ending. All one has to do is to look at the photo above of the Flood of 1982 and its range to see that there aren’t enough walls and levees to protect every section of Fort Wayne – and it is futile to try to do so.