Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) issued the following statement following passage of the bipartisan Conference Report for the Surface Transportation Extension Act: "I was pleased to vote in favor of the Conference report which included the Portman language to save the City of Findlay $3 million in their efforts tocontrol the flood problems to reduce job and property loss to community members."
The Portman language will allow the City of Findlay to utilize land that was previously off-limits for its Blanchard River Flood Protection Project. The fix will save the City more than $3 million by providing an exemption to the Stafford Act, which will allow the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to build a levee or other flood protection improvements on the land rather than having to divert around it.
Findlay suffered one of its most damaging flood events in 2007, with Blanchard River flooding causing $50 million in damages while forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate and halting operations at Marathon, Cooper Tire and other area businesses.
In 2008, the land was purchased using the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which prohibits the construction of flood walls or levees on purchased properties. Soon after, the Army Corp of Engineers notified the City that the land was needed for flood mitigation improvements and that to build around the land would increase costs by more than $3 million. Portman's language in the transportation and flood insurance package will allow flood protection improvements to be constructed on the properties once the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers certifies that these improvements are the most efficient and cost-effective means of protecting the city.
Last month, Latta along with Senator Portman, sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh asking the Corps to prioritize efforts to enact a permanent flood control solution on the Blanchard River.