Cincinnati Parks Riverfront Flood Update

Sandbags line the rising Ohio River

Cincinnati Parks Riverfront Flood Update

Update for February 22, 2019:

The National Weather Services has issued another Flood Warning for the Cincinnati stretch of the Ohio River. Cincinnati just went through a recent flood from February 11 to the 13th. Additional rains east of Cincinnati and local rain on Saturday, February 23 will cause a resurgence of flooding. The river is forecasted to crest at 54 feet on Tuesday, February 26. Cincinnati Parks is taking necessary precautions to prepare for this additional flood.

Original Article posted on February 11, 2019:

The National Weather Services has issued a Flood Warning for the stretch of Ohio River at Cincinnati.

Continuing rains have the river forecasted to crest at just over 56 feet early Wednesday. Thanks to prior planning, Smale Riverfront Park to Ted Berry Friendship Park were built to accommodate rising waters. Cincinnati Parks staff were immediately mobilized, taking proactive safety and cost-saving measuring to protect our riverfront parks.

Throughout the weekend as river levels ascended, staff worked to remove electrical panels, sound equipment and the restroom under the Suspension Bridge, as well as the foot piano. Parks staff will continue to closely monitor conditions and take all steps necessary to ensure public safety and the riverfront park assets.

This is not the first time this plan has been put into action. In February 2018 the River crested at 60.53 feet, significantly higher than the normal level of 25.4 feet. This was the highest the River has been since 1997 when the river crested at 64.7 feet. The maps below show the respective flood levels where different features and components of the Riverfront parks are affected.

Remember that flood waters are dangerous and should not be entered. The water can be deeper than it appears, have strong currents and is combined with sewer flows. Don’t attempt to drive through flooded areas or swim in flood water!

As river levels recede, our work will just begin. The Cincinnati Parks team will shift efforts to clean up debris left behind and place the parks back into working order. If you are interested in volunteering to assist with the coming flood clean up please contact Christyl Johnson-Roberts at 513-321-6070.

  • Smale Riverfront Park was built as a series of terraces that accommodate seasonal flooding along the river edge, which includes areas lifted out of the floodplain.
  • The P&G go Vibrant Interactive Piano keyboard at Smale was designed to be removed.
  • The restrooms under the Roebling Bridge are mobile units which can be moved offsite, bringing a whole new meaning to portable potties.
  • Smale Park’s Great Lawn is an expansive area for programs and events and was intentionally left open to prevent park features from being destroyed during a flood.
  • The serpentine wall at Yeatman’s Cove is a “hard-edge”, constructed to protect and stabilize the bank.
  • Bollard lighting along the Riverwalk are removable by design and one of the first items pulled during flooding.


Infographic Showing different levels of action during a flood in CincinnatiInfographic Showing different levels of action during a flood in Cincinnati
Infographic Showing different levels of action during a flood in CincinnatiInfographic Showing different levels of action during a flood in Cincinnati
Infographic Showing different levels of action during a flood in Cincinnati
Water flooded up on to the sidewalks during the 2018 Ohio River Flood.
A crew guides a giant piano piece in front of the Reobling Bridge.
A group of employees work with a fork lift to remove pieces from the interactive piano.
An employee looks over a cement wall to see the rising river level.
Employees construct a flood barrier in front of a pile of sandbags.
A group of smiling employees pose in front of the rising river.