Heavy Flooding Impacts St. Marys Again

St. Marys Police Department’s Sgt. Josh Boos walks by his patrol car as he directs traffic around the closed intersection of state Route 66 and Greenville Road. More than 4 inches of rain fell on St. Marys, causing major flooding.
Staff Writer

High water once again covered the streets of St. Marys Friday. Following a line of severe thunderstorms, heavy rain and hail Thursday night and early Friday morning, several roads across the city were deemed impassable and were closed.

The long day for city crews began very early Friday morning. A few minutes past 12:30 a.m., lightning struck the city’s electrical system and knocked out power to roughly 1,000 electrical customers for two hours.

“We know that was an extreme hardship on people who lost their sump pumps and had water issues but really there was nothing else we could do,” Safety and Services Director Greg Foxhoven said. 

Once the sun came up, so did the water. With several thousand acres draining into the St. Marys River and Miami-Erie Canal, it didn’t take long for water to overflow banks. By as early as 5:30 a.m., fire departments across the area were being called to rescue stranded motorists with some departments having to fight through several feet of water to reach the victims.

Around 2 p.m., city and county officials noticed water rising rapidly near the intersection of state Route 66 and Greenville Road, prompting law enforcement to divert traffic around the city. Auglaize County Emergency Management Agency Director Troy Anderson said at that time, the St. Marys River was approximately 15 feet deep and was rising about one inch every 20 minutes.

“Really it just comes down to the fact that it became a necessity to shut down 66,” said St. Marys Police Chief Jake Sutton. 

As of 9:45 p.m. Friday, state Route 66 remained closed to traffic.

In an effort to help residents and businesses stay ahead of Mother Nature, city crews spent most of the day filling, delivering and placing sandbags to keep the water at bay. General services workers filled hundreds of sandbags and delivered them across the city.

Employees who weren’t part of the sandbagging effort spent their day monitoring water levels and closing roads that were covered by water.

Members of the St. Marys Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Auglaize County Citizen Emergency Response Team enforced the barricades and offered drivers alternative routes around the flooded roads.

“If the road is closed, please don’t ignore the signs and don’t ignore the water,” said Sutton. 

“Again, our workforce did an excellent job handling this and unfortunately, they’re getting really good at it,” Foxhoven added. 

Rain totals from the Auglaize County EMA reported between 4 and 6 inches of rain fell in the St. Marys area over the course of a few hours. 

Rain totals across Auglaize County (in inches): Kossuth — 6.5; Villa Nova — 6.1; St. Marys — 4.85, 4.56; Wapakoneta — 6.56, 4.3, 3.92; New Knoxville — 3.4; New Bremen — 2.1 and Minster — 1.84.