Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

December 24, 2013

Ind. faces flooding woes following heavy rains


Greensburg Daily News

---- — INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Heavy weekend rains from a massive storm system dumped nearly seven 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 three and five 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 five 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.

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 that 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 four and five inches.

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.

State conservation officers also 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.

Conservation officers also aided a 500-pound black bear left behind in its cage in Shelby County’s Fairland area when flooding drove its owner from his home. Rather than tranquilize the animal, they entered the bear’s 10-foot by 12-foot enclosure and created a platform that allows the bear to get above the floodwaters.

Skowronek said flooding along Indiana’s rivers and streams in that area would likely linger until mid-week. He said there’s little chance that 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.