Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 24, 2013

150 people displaced in Tipton

Residents cleaning up after flooding

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writer

Tipton — As many as 150 people were still homeless Monday after last week’s record-setting flood along Tipton’s Big Cicero Creek.

Tipton Mayor Don Havens estimated up to 60 houses are uninhabitable because they lack heat, have buckling sub flooring and no furniture.

As residents tried to assess the damage, volunteers worked in conjunction with the Tipton Street Department Saturday and Sunday to remove wet and damaged debris from the streets.

Melda Stahl has lived along Diehl Street for 50 years and had never seen the water come up so high.

“It was up to the foundation,” she said. “We left Friday and stayed in a motel. The water came up so quickly.”

Stahl said she was forced to move her car several times to keep it out of the flood waters.

Across the street, Holly and Richard Smithson didn’t fare as well. Water flowed through their garage and into the house.

“We’ve lived here for nine years and this is the first time it flooded,” Holly said. “The backyard has flooded, but never in the house.”

She said at 6 a.m. Friday, the water was up to the first step of their deck and three hours later the family evacuated.

The Smithsons have flood insurance.

Former Mayor George Ogden said he had five feet of water in the basement of his house on East Street. He said the furnace and water heater will need to be replaced.

“I’ve lived there for 23 years and the most water we had before in the basement was one or two inches,” he said.

Ogden said he left for work at 8 a.m. Friday with no problems, and one hour later his wife had to be evacuated from their home.

The Ash Street Wesleyan Church was used as a temporary shelter for people displaced by the flood until they could make arrangements to stay with friends and relatives.

Havens said the storm Friday caused almost flash flood conditions because the water rose and receded so quickly.

“From the homes I’ve visited, the damage is more widespread than you would think,” he said. “There are people in need of assistance. Without that assistance, many of those people won’t be able to move back into their homes.

“In the southwest portion of the city there are some hardships there,” Havens said.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is in Tipton conducting preliminary damage assessments.

“We will get some assistance,” Havens said. “We don’t know the amount or how those funds can be used.”

Chuck Bell, director of the Tipton County Emergency Management Agency, said the community has pulled together.

He said donations are being accepted at the Rock Prairie Church, 421 N. Ash St., to aid those people who need help.

“We’re trying to assess the needs,” Bell said. “People in the south part of the city lost everything.”