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IN assesses flood damage

The high water across Indiana is slowly receding but many are still keeping a close eye on the rivers.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | January 17, 2005


"We are keeping a very close eye on the water pressure there, the water is very high."

—Alden Taylor


The high water across Indiana is slowly receding but many are still keeping a close eye on the rivers.

Along the Wabash River, levies in Terre Haute are saturated and the National Guard is helping sand-bag in the western section of town. Just south of Terre Haute, the Wabash River has overtopped the levy in Sullivan County. "That has closed down one road and has mostly just affected agricultural area," said Alden Taylor, public information officer for the Indiana Emergency Management Agency.

The state still only has preliminary damage assessments of the affected towns at this point. Taylor noted that in the appeal Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels sent to the White House for a federal declaration Friday, the damage numbers were 128 homes destroyed, 294 with major damage, 678 with minor damage, and more than 1,000 affected.

"We do expect those numbers to increase," added Taylor.

Other counties with significant flooding include Madison and Clinton. Some 24 counties across the state have declared local emergencies. Another four counties reported that they are still sheltering some families.

Further down the Wabash River in the city of Vincennes, a flood gate is leaking but officials say the pump is keeping up with the water levels at this time. "We are keeping a very close eye on the water pressure there, the water is very high," said Taylor. Most of the flooded rivers crested Monday or are expected to crest Tuesday and Wednesday.

Faith-based disaster relief groups are already making their plans for the response. Thus far, The Salvation Army is already on site in many of the affected communities. The Indiana chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (INVOAD) was activated some time ago and is monitoring the situation via daily conference calls with members and through their seat in the state Emergency Operations Center.

"We are doing what we can to determine what's needed," said Lane Sims, INVOAD secretary.

INVOAD Member Mary Anna Speller agreed. "It is challenging to know at this point just how many homes have been affected across the state," said Speller, disaster response coordinator for the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ.

Allen Haynes of the Southern Baptist Church in Indiana said his volunteer teams are not officially active at this time, but he expects them to get the call next week. "I know we'll get the calls next week when the water is down, I expect a lot of mud-out work," explained Haynes, disaster relief director for the Southern Baptist Church in Indiana.

His disaster teams have six disaster trailers in Indiana. Some are equipped to feed the public and others are for debris removal or the mud-out process. Just last week Indiana Baptist Teams were busy with debris removal in Muncie for five days after the powerful ice storm.

Until his teams get the call, Haynes said he knows his volunteers are active in helping out their neighbors with any flood needs that may arise in their own neighborhoods.

Bob Babcock, disaster response coordinator for the United Methodist Church's Southern Indiana Conference, said he is also staying in touch with his local congregations to prepare for any needs that may surface.


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