‘I gotta leave’: Vermilion residents keeping a close watch out for potential flooding

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VERMILION, Ohio-- As the temperatures rise and the threat for rain increases, people who live near local rivers are keeping a watch out for possible flooding. The frozen waterways could melt and create dangerous ice jams.

"I'm not gonna be here; we're out of here. I've got my garbage cans tied up; I'm ready to go," said Vermilion resident Dave Phillips.

Phillips lives on Riverside Drive in Vermilion, just yards away from the banks of Vermilion River. With higher temperatures and rain in the forecast, he fears the now-frozen river could thaw, break up and create huge ice jams that cause flooding in the neighborhood.

"I will not stay; I will not stay. I'm at the very end of a dead end street; I can't get out, so I gotta leave," he said.

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Giant blocks of ice are still scattered across his yard and most of the neighborhood. They are left over from last Thursday, when the Vermilion River flooded, pushing the huge chunks onto shore.

"We just heard a loud rumbling and it was just a sound that we've never heard before; I mean, it was abnormal, so we looked and saw the water coming up and the ice and just got out," said Vermilion resident Liz Vasil.

"The biggest concern we have is about Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, in that area. You're gonna have the warming temperatures; you're gonna have the rain, so that's where the most likelihood of problems are gonna happen," said Vermilion Police Chief Chris Hartung.

Hartung says late this weekend, crews may try to improve the river's flow into Lake Erie.

"We have a gentleman who works at the mouth of the river to break the ice up in order to keep the flow going. If we can manage to do that, then we don't have the flooding issues here, but again, we're dealing with Mother Nature and sometimes she operates on her own schedule," said Hartung.

Longtime residents have been through this routine many times before.

"A lot of them even during the course of the flood events, they'll be up in the higher parts with hibachis and they're making sausage and it's like a party sometimes," said the chief.

"If you look, I got a nice big dam right there, so that might protect me," Phillips said jokingly, as he looked at a stack of ice chunks.

More stories on our winter weather, here.

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