By Mike Fletcher
Tribune crime reporter
Governor Mike Pence arrived in Kokomo Saturday afternoon surveying the massive flooding and damage incurred by the recent storm.
The visit was one of three stops Pence made Saturday accessing the damage throughout Indiana. He also visited Tipton and Elwood.
Pence arrived by helicopter at about 2 p.m. and toured the impacted areas with Mayor Greg Goodnight, Congressman Susan Brooks, Rep. Mike Karickoff, R-Kokomo, and County Commissioners, Paul Wyman and Tyler Moore.
“We have begun the process of assessing the damage so we can offer guidance to our Indiana Department of Homeland Security,” Pence said in a press release after his visit. “While we must wait until damage assessments are complete to determine eligibility for disaster loans, our administration will do all we can to support the victims of flooding in their time of need. Today we saw what we see in the face of every disaster Hoosiers face - people helping each other and communities coming together to rebuild stronger than ever before. We will stand by the victims of the floodwaters and together we will make these communities whole again.”
The group surveyed the damage by Apperson Way south of the bridge, Washington Street bridge and the area around McCann Street near Foster Park.
From there, the group went to Memorial Gym, where the Red Cross has set up a shelter, and talked to several people
“He wanted to come in and see some of the hardest hit areas,” Mayor Goodnight said after the brief tour. “The governor assessed the damage and gave us some contacts to coordinate with when it comes to the damage.”
“It’s maybe a little worse than it was in 2003,” he said. “The creek levels are about a foot higher. Our biggest challenge was closing Washington Street. That caused a lot of traffic problems.”
Goodnight said Kokomo fire crews made more than 100 rescues Friday and continue helping those in need.
“The fire department did a fabulous job,” he said.
According to the city, as of 1 p.m. Saturday, the Wildcat Creek was at 17.35 feet, down from 10 p.m. last night when it crested at 18.69 feet, a record.
As of about 4:30 p.m., the city had opened Washington Street and Markland Avenue at Park Avenue.
“We’re very fortunate that there were no deaths and no serious injuries — that’s pretty amazing.” the mayor said.
City trash crews also will be running normal hours Monday and people are encouraged to put their trash out as normal.
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