As most everyone in south central Indiana already knows there was extensive damage around the state over the weekend as the result of flooding. Owen County is well under way into the county and city wide assessment of the extent of the damage.
Red Cross and the Indiana National Guard have been notified and are helping Owen County EMA Director Jack White assess the current damage. With more rain expected tonight the NOAA has issued the current warnings and Flood watches for Indiana posted on the front page of this site.You can see current watches and warning on the NOAA's website. Local weather stations are calling for damaging winds, large hail and heavy rain.
For those Owen County residents that have made it back to their homes. It is important to remember that before you can have your power restored your homes will have to be inspected to insure no further damage to yourself or your home occurs.
If you are using water wells as your primary source of water then you may also need to have the Owen County Health Dept inspect your well. More information on both can be found below or by calling:
Owen County Health Dept 812-829-5017
Owen County Building Dept 812-829-5043
Well Water Information for Owen County Residences:
In the Owen County online parcel map there is a well layer that you can view to see if your water well does in fact lay with in the flood zones. We are asking that all residences that have wells in the flood zone please read the following paper.If you are unsure what it is that you need to do please contact the Owen County Health Dept.
DNR Permit Application Assistance Manual
Herald Times online story.
SPENCER — St. Francis wept in the garden off Main Street, drops of floodwater from the White River running down his stone cheeks.
The statue stood in the yard of a family who had already left the rising river waters, which crested Sunday afternoon.
Owen County — used to dealing with floods after heavy rains — found itself in the midst of one of the worst it’s seen in almost a century.
The White River hit 26.68 feet at 3 p.m. today, putting it two feet above major flooding stage, and just two feet under its record stage recorded in 1913.
A historic marker showing how high that flood reached was bone dry, but within spitting distance of the overflow. Steady downpours over the last several days bumped the river up over its banks, seeping into the low-lying neighborhoods.
“This is the worst I’ve seen,” Russell Rigsby Sr. said from his yard. “It looks like it’s been going down, but you know what they say: It goes down fast, then comes up fast!”
Monroe County American Red Cross Director Maria Carrasquillo said about 25 people were being taken care of at an emergency shelter inside the Spencer Elementary School.
Most escaped with the clothes on their backs, and whatever else they could wrap their hands around.
Erica Cornwell helped evacuate her grandmother Saturday night and came back to check on the house the next afternoon.
“We got her out yesterday and moved some important — she’s done a lot of genealogy work and things like that — things,” Cornwell said. Her boyfriend waded into the knee-deep water and came back a short time later to report that the water was in the garage.
Spencer remained under a state of emergency, and Owen County Emergency Management Director Jack White was preparing paperwork to have the same declared for Gosport late Sunday afternoon.
“Gosport has lost its water and sewer services, and the town of Freedom has lost water coming from the Greene-Eastern Heights utility,” White said. Officials believe — and hope — the river will begin receding, but a dam that holds some eight million gallons of water at Lake Amazon was threatening to burst.
“It is a huge priority for us to get that fixed and assessed,” White said.
For a county that remains largely under water, the last thing it needs is eight million more gallons of it.
Emergency crews were trying to figure out how best to rescue a family that got stranded while camping earlier this weekend.
“They’re stuck way, way in the middle of nowhere,” White said.
“We’re talking about possibly having to bring in a Black Hawk helicopter to come in and get them.”
A Coast Guard helicopter flew over assessing damage, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said members of the National Guard were being dispatched to the county.
Roads were flooded, portions of highways destroyed. It could be weeks before a part of Ind. 46 may be repaired, White said.
But the water didn’t discriminate in its path of destruction.
John Sims was using a sump pump to get the three feet of water out of his basement.
His sister, Bettylou Cunningham, stood in the kitchen with her son, Buddy, and couldn’t believe the damage.
“All my life I’ve lived here,” she said, “and this is the worst I’ve ever seen it.”
Buddy Cunningham predicted the floodwaters could top the 27 foot mark.
“This one’s gonna top the one in 1913,” he said. “We’re looking at 27, 28 feet maybe. That’s more than anyone can remember in quite some time.”
National Weather Service hydrologists are predicting the waters will return to normal levels by the end of the week.
While the flooding divided streets and yards, it united neighbors and friends.
Past the Out-of-State Fireworks stand, where the bottle rockets were buy one get six free, past Beth’s Hair Salon, where the curlers work, but the Pepsi machine out back doesn’t, past Riverside Cemetery, where even the dead were drowning Sunday afternoon, people stood at the water’s edge, spinning tales of floods from their childhood.
Surviving a flood in Spencer has become nearly a rite of passage, they said.
Spirits, like the sandbags, were surprisingly high down by the river.
Bill and Sharon Fairbairn waded deep into the floodwaters, until it hit their waists, to try to make it through their neighborhood.
The currents were deceptively strong.
“Make sure you don’t lift your feet off the ground too high,” Bill warned.
Back on the concrete shore, Francis Walters was preparing to leave her home, which fortunately hadn’t taken in any water as of Sunday afternoon.
“Three years ago, it wasn’t this bad,” she said. “It just got up to Clay Street, it didn’t get this far.”
Her church, just down the street, was heavily flooded, Walters said.
She wasn’t sure when she’d get back.