How vulnerable are dams in Northeast Ohio?

After heavy rainfall overwhelmed dams in Michigan, are dams in our area at risk?

How safe are Ohio dams?

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Experts described the flooding in Midland, Mich. as a 500-year event, caused by two dams in the area that failed.

In Northeast Ohio, water surrounds the northern coast, along with the Cuyahoga River and other lakes and tributaries. So how vulnerable is the area to catastrophic flooding?

Unlike Michigan, Northeast Ohio doesn’t have hydroelectric dams, which failed leading to destructive flooding. Our area does have smaller barriers and levees that keep water off land.

But there are several low lying areas that are prone to flooding.

Dr. Bill Yu is a civil engineering professor at Case Western Reserve University.

He says there are around 1,400 “high hazard” dams in Ohio, 40 to 50 of those are in Northeast Ohio, but there are different types of dams built for different purposes.

But there are some land similarities with both Michigan and Ohio. “Ohio is located in an area similar to Michigan...which means we have an abundant amount of water supply. And because the course of the flood is to have lots of raining and lots of water and no retention for the water to go.”

Dr. Yu says he doesn’t foresee Northeast Ohio having any large scale flooding. But he cautions, that anything could happen. “The magnitude of flood, just maybe not comparable to what we see right now. So definitely it can be dealt with engineer, managers and also management measures.”

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