Ashley Wagner/Ohio.com correspondent
BARBERTON: Residents and city officials gathered Wednesday evening to hold the first public Flood Action Committee meeting.
Mayor Bill Judge, Utilities Director Jim Stender and members of the committee addressed a crowd of about 50 concerned citizens at Community Holiness Church.
"Barberton is a punch bowl. We have to take action, and prepare residents prior to an emergency," Judge said. "We are working on ways to expand current retention ponds, including the removal of many condemned buildings all around Barberton, to make room for additional retention ponds."
South Barberton has the lowest elevation and is the area most severely affected by frequent flooding, which is why the area is the committee’s first priority.
Life-long resident Shorter Griffin, spoke of when his family came to Barberton in February of 1952.
"My mother cried. The city was under water. She didn't understand how anyone could live that way," Griffin said.
Griffin, now part of the committee, is urging other residents to get involved. The committee is seeking ways to gather necessary information and perform studies to bring the city’s condition to the attention of government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Stender said the city currently lacks funding to perform repairs and updates necessary to aid the flooding problem.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first of several expected to be held by the Flood Action Committee.
On September 3, City Council will discuss the next steps to be taken, including a possible contract involving flood action development and research.
Check back with Barberton.Ohio.com to follow the Flood Action Committee’s progress.