Elected official: Mayor Jerry Piasecki

Location: Valley View, Ohio

Story Map: It Takes a Village: Flood Prevention in Valley View, Ohio

Link to full interview video

Valley View is an incorporated village in northeast Ohio, near Cleveland. It is home to most of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and is part of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area. Residents have learned to expect flooding based on the geography of the area. “We’re not called Valley View for no reason,” said Mayor Jerry Piasecki. The Cuyahoga River, which runs through Valley View, frequently overflows during heavy rains. Flood stage for the Cuyahoga River begins at 17 feet. In June 2006, the village experienced a devastating 500-year flood in which the river crested at more than 23 feet, requiring hundreds of residents to be evacuated. Although not quite as severe as the 2006 flood, the village again experienced significant flooding in February 2011, when massive amounts of melting snow combined with rain caused the Cuyahoga River to overtop its banks and flood many residential structures.

Flooding at the Tinkers Creek Aqueduct in Valley View. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.)

In response to the 2006 flood, the village used funds from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to elevate nine structures and acquire one property at risk of flood damage. Since then, the village has participated for several years in the Pre-Disaster Mitigation and Flood Mitigation Assistance programs to help fund additional elevations and acquisitions. So far, 22 homes have been elevated above the Base Flood Elevation of the Cuyahoga River and another 12 residential properties were acquired to remove them from the floodplain. According to Piasecki, FEMA develops the programs and pays for 75% of the cost. The state of Ohio contributes 12.5%, leaving 12.5% to be covered by local funds.

The village recently partnered with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewerage District (NEORSD) to build retention basins, keep the waterways clear of debris, and continue to elevate or acquire more structures. In 2019, through its Community Cost Share program and Regional Stormwater Management Plan, NEORSD is funding half of the cost for five property acquisitions and three structure elevations. The remaining cost to the village will be a little over $600,000.

Mayor Piasecki talks about working with NEORSD on flood mitigation.

Valley View will continue to work closely with NEORSD and FEMA to mitigate flood damage. One advantage of local government in a small village is the special attention they can pay to their residents. With only 800 homes and about 2,000 residents, they regularly hold meetings to meet one-on-one with individual property owners to discuss their flood risk and whether they are eligible and interested in the elevation/acquisition of their property. In this tight-knit community, “every time you raise a home, you’re taking someone out of the fear of flooding, and that’s a lot” said Piasecki.

Mayor Piasecki recalls personally experiencing the 1959 flood as a child.


Link to full interview video


Story Map: It Takes a Village: Flood Prevention in Valley View, Ohio

 

Story Map Cover


Take a story map guided tour through all the communities featured in Volume III's Success Stories. You can explore each communities’ timeline of flood events and responses, with an immersive narrative that includes photos, videos, and audio clips.

 


See more Success Stories from the Guide for Elected Officials