30 years of flood mitigation making a difference

Rodney Renkenberger holds up a picture of the flood of '82 and compares what the area looks like in 2017.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – For those who have been in the community for decades, you remember some of the largest floods. There was 1982, 2003, and even some substantial flooding in 2015. A lot has been done since that memorable flood of ’82 to lessen the potential of major flooding.

The pictures from the flood of 1982 are something you don’t forget. Homes were under water and solutions were needed.

“You can very easily see the difference today,” Maumee River Basin Commission Executive Director Rodney Renkenberger said.

The Commission is an organization assisting communities with flood prevention. Since 1986 it’s helped acquire nearly 300 homes in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana sitting in flood prone areas.

“We’ve been trying to acquire the most vulnerable structures out of the flood plane, opening that area back up for flood storage,” Renkenberger said.

The organization recently helped Fort Wayne and Decatur get more than $676,000 in grants to buyout more homes. Like everything it’s not perfect. The ground can only hold so much water, and the potential for flooding is still here.

“The ground can’t hold anymore water so there’s going to be more runoff,” Renkenberger said. “The next 48 plus hours are very critical in how much water we get.”

Still, Reckenberger said we’ve come a long way.

“The diking project is protecting over 4,000 houses, we’ve bought, basin wide, 300 homes,” Renkenberger said. “I think that’s a pretty substantial benchmark. We’ve elevated a number of homes, we’ve constructed the Maumee widening project.”

The 1982 flood is the largest on record for the Maumee River. For the St. Mary’s River that was in 2003.