One dead, one missing in Indiana flooding - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

One dead, one missing in Indiana flooding

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Flooding near Prince's Lake Flooding near Prince's Lake
Martinsville flooding Martinsville flooding

Indianapolis - Officials say one person drowned and one person is missing in Indiana flooding.

In Seymour, a rising White River has forced officials in the southern Indiana city to evacuate several neighborhoods.

Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman says water that has been rising quickly since 6 a.m. Sunday forced the mandatory evacuation of more than 100 homes. Firefighters and police set up an emergency command post and are helping with the order.

The US Coast Guard successfully rescued six campers stranded in the Owen-Putnam State Forest after and earlier attempt by DNR conservation officers was called off due to rugged terrain.

The three adults, 1 toddler, and 2 infants camping at the park became stranded after the fast falling rain caused mud slides making it impossible to get out. 

They were met by local law enforcement and transported to the Spencer Elementary School for immediate shelter.

Rain up to 10 inches drenched south-central Indiana Saturday, triggering flooding and evacuations in several areas.

Some of that high water has started to move farther south, heading toward the Ohio River. National Weather Service hydrologist Al Shipe says some parts of the state could see flooding that approaches record levels set in 1913.

The 1913 flood killed 200 people statewide and displaced 200,000, according to the Indiana Historical Society's Web site.

State Homeland Security Director Joe Wainscott said officials had no idea of the scope of evacuations, many by boat, but no fewer than several hundred homes and businesses were affected.

Ninety percent of the small town of Paragon, southwest of Indianapolis, was underwater, Wainscott said. Flooding was extensive in Terre Haute and Spencer, he said.

Gov. Mitch Daniels said that although flash flooding was receding in some areas, other places would be hit even harder when rivers started cresting. Four to 10 inches of rain hit areas south of Indianapolis overnight and Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

The U.S. Coast Guard dispatched two rescue helicopters from the Great Lakes to Indianapolis, where they could be sent to flooded areas as needed, Wainscott said.

A scuba team had performed swift-water rescues and helped evacuate homes in Johnson County, south of Indianapolis, sheriff's dispatcher Zachary Elliott said. Dams in the county failed in the Prince's Lakes area, threatening the town of Nineveh about 30 miles south of Indianapolis, county Commissioner Tom Kite said.

Water at one point reached the first floor of Johnson Memorial Hospital in Franklin, but no patients had to be moved. Cars were submerged up to their windshields in the county government building parking lot, and Indiana National Guard troops rerouted traffic around the main street through the city of about 20,000 people. Franklin College had buildings flooded and damaged.

Saralee Mann, 68, had 5 feet of water in her backyard and 3 feet in her basement, but planned to ride the flooding out.

"It'll go away as quickly as it came up," said Mann, who has lived in the home for 49 years. "It's just that it's got to quit raining before it goes down."

The hardest hit areas in the next couple days could be Spencer or Martinsville, southwest of Indianapolis, Shipe said.

North of Martinsville Saturday, Ben Pace watched motorboats moving through his Morgan County community rescuing his neighbors.

Pace said the rain didn't seem that bad when he woke up, but he then watched water rise 6 to 8 inches in his backyard shed.

"Then I realized that it's worse than it's ever been," he said.

A rescuer boated to his front door to get him. He managed to grab some clothes and his dog, leaving the home that had knee-deep water in his bedroom.

In western Indiana, water more than a foot deep flowed quickly around houses in Terre Haute and other areas of Vigo County. Houses on the south side of the city resembled islands in the murky brown water that lapped against U.S. 41. The water submerged cars and left roads invisible.

J.D. Kesler, deputy director of the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency, said more than 200 people had to be rescued from their homes, vehicles and nursing homes after 6 to 9 inches of rain fell within 12 hours.

Peter Perdoue, 35, a mortgage broker from Terre Haute, heard a trickle Saturday morning and checked his daughter's basement room. The water had risen above the window.

"It was almost like I was standing inside an aquarium," he said.

Within a few hours, sewage had started backing into his basement and it wasn't long before the waters had filled his basement up to the 10-foot ceiling.

People also were evacuated in the Lake Lemon area about 10 miles northeast of Bloomington. Dams near Gold Point were close to collapse, police said. Interstate 70 was closed in Clay County in west-central Indiana, and Interstate 65 and another major route, U.S. 31, both were closed near Franklin. I-65 and US 31 have since reopened.

Residents of Helmsburg, a town of about 6,000 people 40 miles south of Indianapolis, were loaded onto buses and taken to a YMCA in nearby Nashville, Brown County Red Cross Chairman Wayne Freeman said.

More than 30,000 electric customers lost power, the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission said.

Daniels' disaster declaration for Brown, Clay, Greene, Johnson, Monroe, Morgan, Owen, Shelby, Vermillion and Vigo counties was a first step toward seeking federal assistance.


(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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