SIDNEY — “There was a time when you were tickled to death to get an inch of rain on your crop, now, you hope it quits at an inch,” said farmer Chris Gibbs when discussing how all the recent rain is affecting farmers and the community.
Due to continuous rainfall, the ground is saturated and the Great Miami River level has been slowly rising, causing northern areas of Shelby County and some parts of Sidney to experience flooding. Jackson Center, Anna and Botkins has been affected worse by the rain than Sidney, which has minor flooding.
Shelby County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Cheri Drinkwine said Jackson Center recorded receiving 10.41 inches of rain, Botkins recorded 10.4 inches, and between Anna and Botkins 8.86 inches of rain was recorded from June 15 to 21. According to reports from the Sidney’s Waterwater Treatment Plant, Sidney received 4.96 inches of rain in that same time period.
“Jackson Center, and Botkins, got quiet a bit of rain,” Drinkwine said. “The EMA helps to get a game plan in place a head of time and get resources set or available, such as the Red Cross. Afterward, (the EMA) does damage assessment and helps with clean up if it is a bad disaster.”
The Ohio EMA agency activities, in addition to disaster response and recovery include: education, training, planning, preparedness, strengthening Ohio’s first responder capabilities and improving communication across the state, said the organization’s Facebook page. If a disaster is bad enough, EMA works to help declare emergency from the state of Ohio, or go to FEMA for federal help with the emergency, Drinkwine said.
She said in May and again this week she delivered several bundles of sandbags to area townships and villages. The sandbags are empty when delivered and then each municipality fills them with sand. Each bundle contains 1,000 sandbags, she said.
“In the case of northern Shelby County, they are situated on top of where two water sheds divide. There are creeks, no river, and the water rises, but it runs off quickly. So, what happens then, especially in the (northern area) towns, is that they put sandbags in front of people’s doors to keep water from entering people’s houses and businesses,” Drinkwine said.
“In Sidney, they activated the river (flood action) plan so when the river starts to go up, that is when they start taking more and more action. And when they start sandbagging, that’s more along the roads and around by the river. That’s a different application. Where as, in Jackson Center and Botkins, we mostly put the bags out in front of doors, because there is not a river going through (those villages),” she continued.
Sidney’s flood action plan was first initiated on Tuesday morning after the river level had reached 10.5 feet. It was continued through Friday. Sidney City Manager Mark Cundiff provided an update Friday morning, informing the public the river had crested at 11.03 feet at 5 a.m.
“There was flooding in low lying areas along the river on Riverside Drive at state Route 47 east. Flooding of the ball field at Custenborder (Fields), the parking area at the Flanagan Sports Complex and low areas in Tawawa Park. The river has been receding since early (Friday) morning and was at 10.83 feet as of 11:30 a.m.,” Cundiff said in an email Friday afternoon. “We were very fortunate compared to some of our northern neighbors.”
Sidney Recreation Specialist Jennie Rogers said since opening June 1, the public pool at Sidney Water Park has closed one whole day and closed early a total of five days due to the rain.
Gibbs said due to the heavy, continuous rain, farmers have lost 30 days of the growing season and are now three to four weeks behind getting their crop in the ground. Gibbs, who owns and operates 560 acres in Shelby and Logan Counties, said he was able to get most of the crop he intended to plant, planted. He raises corn, soybeans, hay and beef cattle. He is a retired official with USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
“Farmers are way behind. I’ve been able to get 90 to 95 percent of what I wanted planted, planted. Although, it was late, because of the rain,” Gibbs said. “We have had about 27 inches of rain since Jan. 1. And on top of that, 47 inches over the last year (June 2018 to June 2019). What is typical in Ohio is 34 to 37 inches. So we are are well over a foot more of rain for the whole year.”
“Farmers are really under the gun because we are losing our (insurance coverage) guarantee, but we’re jamming up against a frost date of the middle of October. So, we are compressed into a pretty high-risk period from here on out,” Gibbs continued. “When you lose 30 days (of a growing period) you cannot make it up. Farmers have had to do three works of work in three days increments. We only get a very short window. We just don’t get any more than three days of work.”
Gibbs said rain and extreme weather events “have become more amplified” over the last 10 years. Heavy, continuous rain not only prevents farmers from “turning a wheel ” in the fields, he noted, but also erodes the land and causes nutrients to run off into streams. High rain caused a loss of the first cutting of alfalfa hay, he said, which will in-turn make the hay fed to livestock extremely expensive.
“It all cascades,” he said. “(Farmers) just have to tough it out.”
Due to more potential rain in the forecast through Monday, Sidney city staff will continue to monitor the river levels. A copy of the Sidney flood action plan, along with the latest river level is available on the city of Sidney’s website at http://www.sidneyoh.com/Water-Treatment/services-river-flood-action-plan.asp . Drinkwine said the EMA’s Facebook page and website regularly informs the public about weather or emergency plan information at https://www.facebook.com/ShelbyCoEMA/
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.