North central Indiana homeowners cleaning up from floods

Heavy rain created devastating flooding for several Indiana communities.
Published: .
Updated: .

Several central Indiana communities are beginning to clean up from last week's flooding.

Homeowners in Lebanon are among those dealing with flood damage. Prairie Creek spilled over Thursday, causing what the mayor calls the worst flooding in 60 years.

Florence Heath has been in her house since the 1950's. All of her carpet has been taken out and her exercise room is a mess.

She says her stuff can be replaced, it's losing the memories that hurts the most.

"The worst thing, I did not cry but for one time, when I opened some stuff I had stored. It had pictures and my kids' cards they had made me in grade school. That is the only time I ever got sad about this whole deal, because you cannot replace that," Heath said.

Heath, along with many of her neighbors, do not have flood insurance. One neighbor said his home is paid off and he's never needed it until now.

It's the same story in Elwood, where the floodwaters are gone, but the misery isn't. Families are cleaning out their water-logged homes.

There were 20 inches of water in Gwen Metz's house.

"Very ugly and smelly. It smells like creek," Metz said.

Dumpsters and trash trucks are overflowing with furnaces, furniture, clothing and piles ruined possessions people like Denny Dimas worked hard to pay for.

"It hurts. Hurts pretty bad," said Denny Dimas.

Chuck Zink's small insurance business looks pretty bad. It is a mess. This was his third flood and he hopes to re-open yet again.

"I'm holding my own," Zink said.

Elwood officials estimate 100 homes and businesses were flooded. The losses are just beginning to be added up.

It was also not a good day for the East Main Street Christian Church. Normally, 75 preschool and daycare children would fill the church's basement. Instead, the church was planning to clean up 20 inches of floodwater.

Church officials figure cleaning up and making repairs will cost more than $25,000.

"I've been a teacher here for 13 years and when I came in and saw the water clear up to the steps Friday morning, I sat on the steps and cried," said teacher Stephanie Hoel.

The preschool hopes to be able to re-open in a week.

Much of the damage is in modest neighborhoods, where families struggle to provide even the basics. Repairing what's been lost, Mayor Ron Arnold fears, will be next to impossible.

"We have folks that have no way to build without assistance," Arnold said.

Residents of Elwood and other communities now hope there is enough damage to qualify for Federal assistance.

In Kokomo, residents along Wildcat Creek are also cleaning up, now that floodwaters have receded.

Steve Reeves' Kokomo home was one of hundreds across Howard County that flooded Friday when Wildcat Creek reached record high levels and spilled over its banks following torrential rains.
He tells the Kokomo Tribune that his home's floors, carpet, furniture and cabinets were all ruined by the floodwaters. His home's carpeting remains water-logged and the floorboards beneath it are buckling.
Fellow Kokomo resident Jack Taylor says his house is a total loss. He says some of his home's antique furniture was damaged by Wildcat Creek's floodwaters and he isn't sure whether he'll be able to salvage those pieces.

Hamilton County residents who sustained damage in the recent flooding can contact the Good Samaritan Network for assistance. County officials say the network "is able to identify needs from the latest flooding event and work with residents to assist them where possible."

The Good Samaritan Network can be reached at 317-842-2603.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)