Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 22, 2013

Tidying up after Mother Nature

Victims survey damage to homes and start the clean up.

By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer

Kokomo — Steve Reeves walked through his Armstrong Street home Sunday morning opening soggy cabinets and drawers.

He opened a cabinet beneath his television and pulled out some CDs and cassette tapes.

“All of these are probably toast,” he said.

He walked over to a closet next. With each step, the carpet beneath him squished. It was saturated with water still, and the floors beneath him were buckling.

Reeves’ home was one of hundreds throughout Howard County that flooded Friday when the Wildcat Creek reached record highs and poured over its banks.

The exact number of homes impacted by the floods is still in question, though.

Sunday afternoon Red Cross volunteers canvassed neighborhoods assessing the damage and compiling data. Officials said the results of the assessment should be available today.

As the waters receded Saturday and Sunday, though, many who left their homes when floodwaters started pouring in returned to survey the damage themselves.

Reeves didn’t like what he saw.

Floors, carpet, furniture and cabinets were all ruined.

He was pretty certain that the oven he just bought for $700 was destroyed, too. There was still water standing in the pan below it.

Reeves had planned to start cleaning his damaged home Sunday, but the thought overwhelmed him. He said he didn’t even know where to start.

“I’ll worry about the rest of this tomorrow,” he said. “Everything here is gone.”

He paused for a moment and looked up. That’s just the way it goes, he said.

All across town people were saying that same thing.

Jack Taylor stood in front of his Armstrong Street home with a hose Sunday.

He was washing away the mud the floodwaters left behind. That was the easy part, though.

Inside, things looked much worse.

He had to squeeze through his side door. It wouldn’t even open all the way anymore because his hardwood floors were warped from the water.

Some antique furniture pieces were soaked in creek water. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to salvage those.

Taylor scoured the house Sunday for any valuables he could save.

He said he wanted to remove them from the home. Taylor caught some people “creeping” around his house Saturday when the neighborhood was deserted. He said he was worried they might try to steal from him.

“I already lost everything else,” he said. “I can’t afford to lose what I can salvage.”

Taylor said his house is a total loss

Floodwaters rose five feet inside, reaching the stained glass windows in his living room.

The flood of 2003 had already damaged the structure some, but now, with this flood, the foundation is just crumbling, he said.

“I don’t think this ole girl can take it anymore,” he said.

Reeves said there’s a chance his home could be saved. But he just rents it and plans to move out sometime soon.

He’s been through two floods now. It’s one too many, he said.

“This is the second time, the last time,” he said.

Leroy Colter doesn’t have flood insurance for his Pavalion Drive home.

He and his wife have lived there 49 years, and it has flooded before, sure, but not like this.

Even during the flood of 2003, the water only rose four inches in their house. So they thought they were prepared. They lifted their furniture up four inches.

The water reached four inches quickly and kept rising. It would ultimately rise another three feet or so, Colter said.

Sunday afternoon, the Colters and eight of their children and grandchildren moved furniture, appliances and valuables outside. They slowly cleaned every last piece and let it dry out.

They weren’t sure yet how much they’d be able to keep. He knew he would have to at least replace his hot water heater.

That would cost them “a dollar or two,” he said.

Some of the things in his home were irreplaceable, though, Colter said.

“We’ve been married 63 years,” he said. “It’s hard to throw away all the stuff you’ve amassed.”

Colter said he thinks he knows now how Job felt in the Bible.

In that book of the Bible, Job’s love of God is tested. He loses 500 yoke of oxen, 500 donkeys, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels and his 10 children. But he does not blame God for what happened.

“The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away,” Colter said. “It could be worse. We’ve got a place to sleep.”

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