Residents Near Chagrin River ‘Watching and Waiting’

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EASTLAKE, Ohio — The people of Eastlake know the routine — watch and wait.

This time of year the Chagrin River gets packed with ice, and with the upcoming temperatures expected to rise well above freezing, that ice is going to melt.

The current water levels are no cause for alarm, but the Eastlake mayor and fire chief want people living along the banks to be aware the river could overflow this weekend.

“We are the emptying point for the Chagrin River, which is about 80 miles, so we get everybody’s ice as it comes down,” Eastlake Fire Chief Ted Whittington said.

Whittington is preparing for another round of possible flooding. The massive blocks of ice are expected to melt as the weekend temperatures venture far above freezing.

“Anybody along the river, just know that this weekend there is a potential for some issues, so just keep an eye on it,” he said.

“The situation looks a lot worse than it really is at this point,” Eastlake Mayor Dennis Morley said.

Lake Erie is frozen, but the mouth of the river is not.  The water is still flowing beneath the ice chunks on the Chagrin River as well.

“We’ve gone through this several times, we’ve been down here for over 40 years now, so you definitely have respect for the river and Mother Nature. You make contingency plans and play it by ear,” said Eastlake resident Rolf Kononow, who lives along the Chagrin River.

“We watch it and we watch the news and if it gets any crazier, we usually just pull stuff from the garage and we put it in the house and we move all our cars to the ravel out to the end of the street,” said 19-year old Andrew Wheeler, who was keeping his parents posted on the river’s status while they were at work.

Residents say every few years the Chagrin does dump ice chunks and debris in their yards.

But they say the beauty of living next to the river outweighs the potential inconvenience.

“At one time, we had about an inch of water in the crawl space, but that’s been it,” said Kononow.

If the threat of flooding increases, Eastlake residents will be notified by a reverse 911 system, Morley said.

City leaders plan to meet again later on Friday to go over a plan in case flooding occurs.

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