Resident voices major concern to officials

T-L Photo/GAGE VOTA Dawn Homan, a concerned resident of Smith Township, shows the Belmont County commissioners photos of the slipping hillside at Williams Creek.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A concerned resident of Smith Township addressed the Belmont County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday morning, raising the issue of potential future flooding.

“We had a hillside collapse behind our property that when it rains it causes major flooding down around Williams Creek,” Dawn Homan told the three-member board. “I’ve exerted all of my sources. I have gone up to the Ohio senator. I have gone to J.D. Vance’s office and Sherrod Brown’s offices, I’ve spoken multiple times with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Army Corps of Engineers, the EMA, and anyone you could think of honestly.”

Recently the Ohio Department of Natural Resources provided Homan with a removal and stream maintenance guide. Homan handed it to the commissioners, showing where she highlighted statues that grant county commissioners and township trustees authority to remove stream obstructions on private property and charge the cost of removal to the property owners.

“I want to be proactive and not put other people’s lives at risk around us, because the blockage is going to affect all of my neighbors, not just myself,” she added. “I have elderly neighbors, and water rises fast and water is scary so when this happens you don’t have very much time to react because it comes down so fast and can do so much damage in hours.”

Homan told the commissioners that she attended the meeting because she wanted to be heard and to try and work with the commissioners and township trustees to come to a solution.

The slide initially occurred Dec. 28, according to Homan, and when the major flooding happened in April it made the situation worse.

“We weren’t like Wheeling Island obviously, but it’s enough to scare you of wondering are you going to have to pick up and move from your home,” she said.

Homan said the landowners live out of state and are not willing to help.

“I’ve called every government agency and the first thing they say is, ‘Have you reached out to your county commissioners and trustees?’ Homan said. “Let’s try and resolve this.”

She said she works for attorneys and is in the Belmont County Courthouse regularly, so she knows how long a lawsuit takes and does not want to go that route.

“I just want to be heard or have the landowners responsible or somebody help me out,”

Homan told the commissioners.

Commission President Jerry Echemann asked Homan what exactly happened on Dec. 28.

She replied that the whole hillside collapsed during a downpour, which led to mud and trees collapsing into Williams Creek.

Echemann then asked her about how many times flooding has occurred since the Dec. 28 landslide. Homan said about three times.

“I know that Belmont County (Emergency Management Agency Director) Dave Ivan did a site visit, and I know his assessment that he passed on to us was there were some limitations because everything he’s seen from the site he thought that it was a private matter,” Commissioner J.P. Dutton said.

Dutton suggested that Homan talk more with Ivan and the Smith Township Board of Trustees. Homan asked if the commissioners would be able to help reach out to the landowners because the property is currently owned by over 10 different family members who are located across the entire country. Dutton asked Homan to leave her contact information and the landowners’ contact information with the commissioners so they could reach out.


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