GOSHEN — Greencroft residents Angel and Lora Miranda received an invitation to attend the public Goshen Flood Awareness and Lower Elkhart River Project public meeting, which took place Thursday afternoon and early evening at Shanklin Park’s Schrock Pavilion.
“I want to know if planting more trees makes a difference,” Lora said at the meeting.
Dozens of people attended the drop-in style event, which was represented by a number of municipal agencies and other organizations, including Trees for Goshen, the Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Goshen Fire Department and others. Food was provided and chairs were set up for a slideshow, and GFD displayed some of their river rescue and flood equipment.
Ryan Miller, of the Goshen Stormwater Department, said he was happy with the turnout.
“The main point we want people to take away is that flooding will occur and it’s to the benefit of everyone to learn to live with it and understand the impact flooding has on communities,” he said.
According to a city of Goshen mailing, the event was designed to discuss aspects of Goshen’s Flood Resilience Plan and to give input on water quality and quantity issues in the lower Elkhart River area.
“Flood awareness and preparation are important in a community with chronic flooding, such as Goshen, as is working with our partners to positively impact the rivers and streams we live with,” the mailing stated.
At the meeting, the St. Joseph River Basin Commission was represented by Matt Meersman.
“We serve all six counties in northern Indiana that drain into the St. Joseph River,” Meersman said of his agency’s mission.
Meersman said that the commission has taken two primary steps regarding these issues. These include a flood risk study of of the north branch of the Elkhart River, in Noble and LaGrange counties, which is relatively stable, as well as installing monitoring devices to understand how the river and tributaries respond to rainfall events.
Specifically, although the north branch is relatively stable, there is some fluctuation, or lingering high water levels, due to residential encroachment in flood prone areas. As a result, Meersman said, one goal is to direct development away from areas more prone to see flooding.
“There have been high water levels in the north branch for thousands of years, but because we’re building there now, it’s a problem,” Meesman said.
Scott Robinson and Eva Shearer, who live on the west side of Goshen, said there has been standing water in the street, due it not draining properly.
“We have some water issues when it does rain,” Robinson said. “There’s an open ditch behind our house. If it floods, we actually have water standing in the street.”
Darin Bontrager, regional operations coordinator for Region 2 of Mennonite Disaster Service, attended the meeting and mentioned that MDS responded to the 2018 Goshen floods.
“Should the need for volunteers and cleanup arise, that’s kind of why I’m here,” Bontrager said.
To learn more, visit goshenindiana.org/flood-zone or elkhartriver.org/lower-elkhart-river-grant-introduction.