Kokomo considering changes to alleviate flood threat

Homes in Kokomo were overcome by floodwaters last week.
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Residents of Kokomo are thinking of their future after devastating flooding last week.

The floodwaters came so fast last Friday, cars were left behind. The waters have given up the cars, but some residents may have given up on their neighborhood.

"I don't know if I'm going to move or not," said Daniel Scott.

"Don't know what a flood is until it happens to you," said Theresa Shallenberger.

Wildcat Creek is not as wild now. Shallenberger is lucky the floodwaters stayed out of her first floor, but her basement is a different story. People are comparing the disaster to flooding in 2003.

Ten years ago, floodwaters were up about a foot in the basement. Last week, the water rose to six feet. Utilities and furniture were destroyed, too.

"Mainly cleaning up now. Cleaning the basement so we can get it sprayed down with bleach to prevent mold and mildew," said resident Jim Absher.

"We're still in the process of cleaning up," said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight.

The mayor was already looking downstream. Months ago, he brought in engineers to find ways to cut flooding in the city.

"There is really some open ground. Existing park areas and open fields, things like that, that would really not impact any structures," Goodnight said.

Some homes could be moved, but the city is focusing on using open land and parks first, redoing those places so they can hold even more overflow from Wildcat Creek, keeping it out of the neighborhoods.

"They definitely need to do something. This is the first time my basement flooded and I didn't think it would get near as bad as it actually did," Shallenberger said.

Down the street, another resident, Sally, was clearing out a house she put on the market just two days before the flood. She'd like to see some plan for alleviating the flooding, too.

"I'm rather biased, of course. The sooner the better for me," said Sally.

Plans for reducing the flood impact are in their early stages. It's unclear how much they would cost and could take 2-3 years to complete.