Barberton: Responding to Rising Waters

The City of Barberton has a long history of flooding; more than 100 years. Barberton sits at a convergence point where Mud Run, Hudson Run and Wolf Creek all flow into the Tuscarawas River.

Mayor William Judge called the city “the punchbowl of Summit County.” And he’s right. Residents deal with flooding nearly every summer that leaves them wondering if there is an end in sight. City officials are listening to these concerns and worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to find a temporary solution using a $595,000 federal grant.

The grant will be used to acquire 15 homes in the flood-prone area on 14th Street, which runs parallel to Wolf Creek. These homes lie in an area that Judge said is actually below the water level of Wolf Creek. When the creek floods the water flows into the streets and floods residents’ homes.

Judge said these homes will be demolished and the area turned into green space. “So it’ll flood there versus someone’s basement or someone’s home,” he said. “Now, obviously it would be better if all the homes were purchased and [demolished], but again all the homeowners had to meet certain criteria established by FEMA and some of them didn’t meet the criteria.”

Homeowners are required to have flood insurance and a recorded history of repeated flooding. They must also accept the appraised value of their home in payment.

Judge said he encourages all residents to report any incidents of flooding to the city so they can be recorded. He said these reports allow the city to obtain more grants like these to establish other programs and projects to mitigate future flooding.

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