Ironton floodgate goes up Sunday

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 20, 2004

Flood waters continue to cause the Ohio River to crash over its banks, forcing Ironton officials to batten down the hatches.

Ironton Floodwall and Street Superintendent Mike Pemberton said city employees spent most of the day Sunday putting up floodgate No. 10 at Second Street and Hicks Alley.

The city has 18 flood gates that are closed when the river reaches dangerously high levels. The decision to close the gates is based on forecasts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and on river's water marks.

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If the river reaches 48 to 50

feet, the city prepares to close that gate.

The river is projected to crest at a little more than 52 feet and is currently at 51 feet, Pemberton said.

"We don't have a crest yet. It is possible we will get the crest this evening or early Tuesday morning," he said. "We just don't know yet."

The high water could stay up for as long as 12 hours. Pemberton estimated that the floodgate will stay in place until late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Closing a flood gate is a six- to eight-hour process. Street department employees prepare the plates and I-beams inside the gatehouse are set with a crane. Once the steel and timber are set on the beams, the gate is covered with tar paper and sealed with sandbags at the bottom.

The closure causes some traffic problems, Pemberton said. All traffic into and out of North Ironton is routed across a

railroad crossing where McPherson Street connects with U.S. 52.

A police officer will be stationed there all day and the city has called for train traffic to reduce speeds, Pemberton said.