Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 23, 2013

Ind. faces flooding problems

Howard County sees minor flooding near 1050 East.

The Associated Press
Kokomo Tribune

---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Heavy weekend rains from a massive storm system dumped nearly 7 inches of rain on parts of Indiana, leaving many of the state's rivers and streams flooded and sparking a series of water rescues, authorities said Sunday.

Between 3 and 5 inches of rain fell across central and southern Indiana over three days starting Friday, with the National Weather Service reporting 6.75 inches of rainfall about 5 miles south of Vincennes in southwestern Indiana.

Flood warnings were posted along numerous rivers and streams, including the Big Blue River, which was projected to crest Monday in Shelbyville, about 25 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

Locally, Wildcat Creek experienced some minor flooding on Sunday, near Jerome, on Howard County Road 1050 East. Flooding also occurred near the canoe launch site and park near Ind. 213.

With a flood stage of 9 feet, the Wildcat Creek was observed at 9.2 feet around 2 p.m. Sunday, although flooding levels began to subside slightly as the day went on.

Shelby County emergency management director Mike Schantz said floodwaters were threatening to overflow the banks of many other rivers and streams, including Sugar Creek at New Palestine.

Schantz told The Indianapolis Star many residents living in low-lying areas were driven from their homes by floodwaters and evacuated to Shelbyville High School.

By Sunday morning, he said, all of those residents were able to leave the shelter, but emergency crews were keeping an eye on water levels.

"Things are pretty stable at the moment," Schantz said. "We're kind of in a wait-and-see ... we've done about all the sandbagging we can."

Shelbyville and surrounding areas could see flooding similar to 2005 levels, when Shelby County and many counties south of Indianapolis experienced their worst bout of flooding in 70 years, he said.

Joe Skowronek, a meteorologist with the weather service's Indianapolis office, said the heaviest rains from the weekend storm fell in an area running from southwestern Indiana to just south of Indianapolis and then into eastern and southeastern counties. Rainfall amounts in those areas were generally between 4 and 5 inches.

Conservation officers rescued a southwestern Indiana man Saturday night who clung barefoot for about three hours to a Pike County bridge abutment after floodwaters swept him off his four-wheeler. Michael D. Christmas, 30, of Velpen had been returning home from work in Otwell when he was swept off his vehicle.

An Indianapolis Fire Department dive crew used a boat to rescue a Michigan family of four early Sunday after their vehicle became stuck in high waters on Indianapolis' east side. That crew rescued 51-year-old Douglas Nieske, his 53-year-old wife, Sonia, and the couple's 19-year-old and 21-year-old daughters about 2 a.m. Sunday.

The Shelby Township, Mich., family's luggage was also retrieved from their water-logged car.

Skowronek said flooding along Indiana's rivers and streams in that area would likely linger until mid-week. He said there's little chance Indiana's snowpack that was washed away by the rains will be replaced in time for a white Christmas.

Skowronek said there's a slight chance of snow Wednesday night and Thursday, but that system will bring only a dusting of snow to the state.