Ice jams on the Chagrin cause flooding in Willoughby

WILLOUGHBY - If your children were late getting home from after school programs Friday, Willoughby's School Superintendent warned parents flooding most likely had something to do with it.

A major ice jam on the Chagrin River forced police to shut down area roads due to the flooding, the water upstream having nowhere else to go with the ice at a complete stop on the river, Friday.

Reversed 911 calls were made to warn those in the affected areas.

"If it raises enough to touch the bottom of the bridge, we normally shut down the road along with St. Clair and the freeway," said Sgt. Ken Jordan of the Willoughby Police Department.

Thankfully it didn't come down to shutting down the freeway on a Friday afternoon, but the ice did come uncomfortably close to bridge and remained that way for much of the day.

The roadways that were forced to close for some time included St. Clair Avenue, Apollo Parkway and Erie Rd. at Foothill Drive.

"My whole driveway was about 10 ft. form my door earlier so any higher and it's going to get into the building," Shawn Greenaway.  His business on Apollo drive was one of the many in that industrial area affected by the flooding.

Greenaway said he's used to flooding in that area each year and told NewsChannel5 all you can really do is be prepared.

"Get everything off the floor.  I'm already all set.  That's what I spent all day doing, just getting everything important up," said Greenaway.

But while certain areas like Apollo Pkwy may be prone to flooding, residents say other areas are not and that's a major cause for concern.

One homeowner near Erie Rd. and Foothill Dr. said off camera, they never had flooding in their area until last month when the ice jams occurred around the second week of January.

That time, the neighbor said, was much worse than this time around. Still some are worried the flooding will continue to get worse.

Gail Brugh believes the lower height of the area's bridges may have something to do with the ice jams. That and we haven't seen a winter this cold in several years.

"The bridges are extremely low," Brugh said, "and the ice is jamming underneath those bridges where that has never happened in 20 years before and that's scary."

Brugh said normally Eastlake gets the major flooding when ice jams back-up the river. 

Willoughby Police and Fire as well as Eastlake's Police and Fire are both monitoring the river to make sure it doesn't get worse.  Sgt. Jordan told NewsChannel5 crews are on call but they don't think it will get worse thanks to the temperature drop, making for less snow melting upstream.

Residents and businesses are preparing for flooding either way.

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