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Flood Damage Assessment Can't Start Until Waters Drop

There isn't a flood damage estimate for Hamilton County yet. Emergency Management Agency officials haven't been able to start counting the number of properties affected by high water, or the cost of repairing properties and infrastructure. The water is still too high.

Emergency Management Director Nick Crossley says after Sunday night's crest, the Ohio River will still be in flood stage. "We're still expecting a little bit of rain on Wednesday and Thursday, which won't necessarily, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) cause it to go back up but it may slow down the water going down in a significant fashion," he says.

The Ohio River was predicted to crest at Cincinnati at 60.7 feet Sunday evening. Flood stage is 52 feet. Anything above 56 feet is considered moderate flooding, according to the NWS.

With the river levels staying high, some roads that have been impassable will stay that way.

"Just plan for it," says County Commissioner Chris Monzel. "It's not going to be easy. With these roads being closed just plan to make sure you're aware of what's available, especially with our parking downtown. Your commute is going to be affected this week, so just plan for it."

High water came over Smale Riverfront Park and into the lower levels of the Banks parking garages.

Commission President Todd Portune says the Banks and the riverfront parks were designed with green space closest to the water. "When you build next to a river you have to understand that rivers rise and rivers fall and rivers occasionally flood," he says.

There was flood water along West Mehring Way, but it's not clear yet if there's damage to Paul Brown Stadium. Flood gates went up at Great American Ball Park earlier in the week.

Portune says as of Sunday evening, Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) had received 211 calls for assistance from property owners. The Cincinnati Area Red Cross had six requests for aid.

When the recovery phase begins, Portune has a request for flood victims: "Please record; please do what you can to discern what kind of damage you have suffered." Portune says there's no guarantee federal or state aid will reimburse people with damages. "There are programs that we're going to apply for to get help from federal and state government and MSD does have a claims process as well." Portune says property owners should first check to see if their private insurance covers damage.

County commissioners plan to declare a local emergency on Monday. Ohio Governor John Kasich announced a state of emergency in 17 counties on Saturday. There are certain damage thresholds that have to be met in order for a presidential federal disaster declaration.

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.