Weather reports indicate Willard was flooded with 3.33 inches of rain, breaking the record for most amount of rain fall on June 13 in any previous year there. City Manager Jim Ludban said to make matters worse, that high volume of rain came in a matter of one hour, “overwhelming” city sewer systems.
“That resulted in overwhelming the storm and sewer system, which caused some streets to be flooded for a period of time, which caused backups and surges in some drains,” Ludban said. “We had no injuries but we had some vehicles that tried to go through some intersections with very high levels of water and were stranded. But again, no injuries.”
“It was crazy!” said Willard’s Jessica Handshoe on Facebook. “(Our) basement flooded. We actually caught it before it started POURING in! The drain just couldn't keep up. We put everything (from the basement) up just in time.”
Others weren’t as fortune and experienced damage to their basement contents, according to Ludban.
The city manager said he received several calls inquiring about the condition of Willard’s storm and sewer system.
“The storm and sewer system worked just as exactly as designed,” he said.
“The excess water we diverted to a lagoon,” he added. “It’s not that they’re not working. They were just simply overwhelmed. We probably received between six and 12 concerns of citizens asking what are we going to do about this. It was an event with three inches of rain in an hour. I’m not going to say it’s a once-in-a century or even once-in-50-years, but there’s no system designed to handle that. We had drains backed up in the city just like residents. It’s inconvenient but the system did exactly what it was supposed to. It was just overwhelmed.”
The city will “assist in the cleanup” starting Monday, according to Ludban. Residents can place damaged items on the curb, beginning Monday. Willard will release more details in the coming days.
In addition to producing dangerously high water levels, Tuesday’s storm also downed several branches, Ludban said. That damage, however, was minimal.
Willard used the county’s emergency alert system to issue a warning to its residents affected by the flooding.
“If your basement is flooded, please be aware of the hazards of the utilities (gas and electric),” the alert stated. “If you are unsure if there is a hazard, please contact the non-emergency number for the Willard Police Department at 419-933-2561 and police or fire will respond to investigate.”