Location: Findlay, Ohio

Story Map: Managing Flooding on the Blanchard River: Findlay, Ohio

Findlay is a city of a little over 40,000 residents in northwest Ohio, just south of the Michigan border and surrounded by agricultural land. The Blanchard River, which flows through Findlay, frequently overflows during heavy rain events, causing flooding. In August of 2007, Findlay experienced its most significant flooding in nearly 100 years, caused by torrential rain from summer storms from the remnants of Hurricane Erin. During the flood, the Blanchard River crested at over seven feet above flood stage. As a result of the flooding, more than 900 residents of Findlay were evacuated from their homes. Hancock County, where Findlay is located, was declared a federal disaster area and had 250 homes substantially damaged by the flood.

U.S. Coast Guard assisting flood victims to leave their homes in Findlay, Ohio, on Aug. 23, 2007. (Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 3rd Class William Mitchell, U.S. Coast Guard).

Findlay took its job seriously in doing substantial damage determinations after the 2007 flood, conducting over 1,000 of them. Substantial damage determinations have been a controversial issue in other communities due to the perceived burden placed on property owners recovering from a flood event.

To reduce future flood damage, nearly 150 homes and businesses in Findlay have been removed from the floodplain, funded by a combination of local, state and federal funds. Work is also being done to widen the Blanchard River by cutting “benches” in the riverbank to increase the river’s capacity to hold floodwater. This will lower the water level of a 100-year flood by about 1 foot on Main Street. After the excavation work, a riparian buffer will be planted to stabilize the bank, filter pollution and provide wildlife habitat. The project also includes the removal or modification of four small dams in the river and widening the span of the Norfolk Southern Railway bridge. The project is funded by Hancock County’s flood fund. In response to the devastating 2007 flood, Hancock County passed a 0.25% sales tax increase the following year to go toward flood mitigation projects.

Story Map: Managing Flooding on the Blanchard River: Findlay, Ohio


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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