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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
City workers try to unclog a sewer at West State Boulevard and St. Marys Avenue on Thursday. Near-record river levels are forecast across the region.

High water puts records at risk

Region’s river levels forecast at flood stage

Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Heavy rain Thursday left standing water at Clinton Street and Jefferson Boulevard downtown.

– Huntington residents could be waking up to record flooding today.

The National Weather Service on Thursday afternoon predicted the Little River in Huntington would the river will crest at 20.06 feet at 8 a.m. If so, it would best the record of 20 feet set in 1950.

Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters said he didn’t have much information on preparations for the flood, partly because every available city employee was already out in the field working to prepare.

At 20 feet, the river would imperil several homes along East State Street that back up to it.

“The big challenge is those houses along State,” Fetters said. “You feel bad, because they had a flood from an ice jam earlier this year and they got flooded last year. It’s just one of those crazy things right now with the weather.”

On April 19, 2013, the Little River hit 19.83 feet, the second highest ever recorded.

Fetters said flooding seems to be getting worse. According to National Weather Service records, five of the top 10 river levels were recorded in the last 10 years. Seven of the top 10 have come since 1996.

In North Manchester, the Eel River is forecast to hit 13.7 feet at 2 a.m. Saturday. The East Side Trailer Court would flood at 13.5 feet.

On the Wabash River, forecasters expect the water to reach 14.1 feet at Linn Grove at 2 a.m. Sunday, just short of the record of 14.8 set in the Flood of ’03. The NWS says that at 14 feet, secondary roads would be blocked, roads near the east side of Geneva would begin to flood and some evacuations may be required.

Downstream in Bluffton, the Wabash is expected to hit 15.5 feet, but thanks to buyouts, homes there would not be affected until 18 feet.

In Decatur, the St. Marys River is forecast to reach 22 feet by tonight, gradually rising to 22.8 feet by Monday.

At that level, Indiana 101 north of Pleasant Mills would be closed by flood water, and high water would affect U.S. 224, Ohio 49 and east-side Decatur streets. There would be extensive farm flooding and flooding on the Bellmont High School grounds.

Downstream in Fort Wayne, the St. Marys is expected to hit 18.4 feet at 2 a.m. Saturday. At 16.5 feet, which the river should hit by about noon today, the intersection at Calhoun Street and Tillman Road would flood. At 18.4 feet, much of Foster Park golf course would flood and much of Swinney Park West would be underwater.

The NWS does not issue forecasts for Fort Wayne’s small streams that frequently flood, such as Fairfield Ditch, Junk Ditch or Spy Run Creek.

When Spy Run hits 12 feet, water begins spilling onto State Boulevard; the creek was at 12.3 feet Thursday afternoon.

The St. Joseph River in Fort Wayne is expected to crest just short of 14 feet, well below levels where it causes problems.

The Maumee River is forecast to hit 22.3 feet early Sunday morning. Flooding in Riverhaven begins about 22 feet.