Beginning February 15, 2018, heavy rain and storms occurred, causing many rivers in Indiana to overflow their banks. County-level response continues in the southern portion of the state, as flood waters continue to move south and impact communities. The State Emergency Operations Center remains available for coordination and resource support.
As flood waters recede, property damage assessments are underway throughout the state, especially in Northern counties. State and local teams continue to conduct assessments and gather information, which began February 28, 2018. Teams from the American Red Cross are also assisting in damage assessment efforts. Assessments will continue in each county, until complete, at which time teams will continue to other affected counties. Indiana residents are still encouraged to report uninsured damage through the online portal located at http://bit.ly/2018rainfall.
Indiana residents impacted by flooding and in need of debris removal and sanitation assistance can contact the Red Cross, which can help citizens connect with reputable and vetted relief volunteers. All services are free, but not guaranteed due to an overwhelming need for assistance. Those needing assistance may call 888-684-1441.
Governor Eric J. Holcomb has issued a disaster declaration due to flooding that currently includes 31 Indiana counties: Benton, Carroll, Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Elkhart, Floyd, Fulton, Harrison, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Kosciusko, Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Newton, Noble, Ohio, Perry, Porter, Posey, Pulaski, Spencer, St. Joseph, Starke, Switzerland, Wabash, Warren, Warrick and White counties. This flooding has destroyed or caused severe damage to homes, businesses, structures and infrastructure.
County Emergency Declarations: The following 33 counties have issued county emergency declarations: Benton, Carroll, Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Elkhart, Floyd, Fulton, Gibson, Harrison, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Kosciusko, LaGrange,Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Newton, Noble, Ohio, Perry, Porter, Posey, Pulaski, Spencer, St. Joseph, Starke, Switzerland, Wabash, Warren, Warrick and White counties.
If a county has issued an emergency declaration, this means the county board of commissioners has determined that conditions are such that emergency services may not be provided to the public in a timely fashion, and may be significantly delayed. A county emergency declaration initiates county emergency plans, and allows additional resources to be provided by the state to assist local response efforts.
The State Emergency Operations Center was activated Wednesday, February 21, 2018, and returned to daily staffing levels at 2 p.m., Friday, March 2, 2018, as the incident moved into recovery, and response needs had decreased.
In addition to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, other agencies providing services over the course of the incident response included the Department of Natural Resources, Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana Department of Correction, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana National Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the American Red Cross. These agencies remain on-call if additional support is needed.
The State Joint Information Center was activated Monday, February 26, 2018, at noon and continues to disseminate information at this time. Beginning March 3, 2018, the primary JIC hours are from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has launched a virtual disaster recovery resource page that can be accessed at:http://in.gov/dhs/4055.htm. Please share as appropriate.
The State of Indiana has been receiving reports of FEMA employees performing damage assessments in Northern Indiana. At this time, while the State of Indiana and Red Cross have individuals assessing damage throughout the state, FEMA does not have any staff performingassessments. Assessors with insurance companies associated with the National Flood Insurance Program may be visiting policyholders. If an individual visits a home requesting to assess the property, residents should request identification to verify agency affiliation.
STATE ASSISTANCE CENTERS
Hoosiers affected by severe weather and flooding in Indiana will have convenient access to assistance as the State of Indiana opens three state assistance centers in Northern Indiana. Three one-stop disaster centers opened the week of Monday, March 5. Lake and Elkhart counties’ centers opened Monday, March 5, and Jasper County’s center opened Tuesday, March 6. A Southern Indiana assistance center will open Thursday, March 15.
- Lake County: 2460 Vermillion Street, Lake Station Indiana 46405
(Polk Elementary School, in the gymnasium.)
- Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- The Lake County center will conclude services on Friday, March 9 at 8 p.m. local time
- Jasper County: 112 Carnation Street SE, Demotte Indiana 46310
(Demotte Town Hall)
- Open Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Open Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- The Jasper County center will conclude services on Saturday, March 10 at 2 p.m. local time
- Elkhart County: 608 Oakland Drive, Elkhart Indiana 46516
- Open Monday and Friday, noon to 8 p.m.
- Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- The Elkhart County center will conclude services on Saturday, March 10 at 6 p.m. local time
- Clark County: Utica Town Hall, 107 N 4th St, Jeffersonville, IN 47130
- Open Thursday, March 15 through Saturday, March 17, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time
State agencies will have representatives on site to provide immediate assistance and answer questions for those who have suffered a loss, including the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Family and Social Services Administration, Department of Workforce Development, Indiana State Department of Health, Department of Insurance, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Indiana State Board of Animal Health, Indiana State Department of Agriculture. The Indiana Office of Technology and the Indiana State Police will be providing additional support.
Lake County – Households assisted Wednesday, March 7: 18 (total served: 40)
Elkhart County – Households assisted Thursday, March 8: 24 (total served: 209)
Jasper County – Households assisted Thursday, March 8: 15 (total served: 41)
Northern Indiana residents who have questions or unmet concerns can reach out to the State of Indiana Joint Information Center at 317-238-1784.
The Indiana State Department of Health is supplying the following counties with doses of tetanus vaccine: Adams, Carroll, Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Elkhart, Floyd, Jackson, Jefferson, Lake, Marshall, Newton, Perry, Porter, Spencer, Switzerland and White counties. Residents should contact the local health department for information about receiving vaccinations.
As of March 6, 2018, 2,280 doses of the tetanus vaccine have been distributed to local county health departments in response to flooding in northern and southern Indiana.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has implemented emergency orders restricting boat activity on Lake Wawasee, Barbee Lake Chain and Tippecanoe Lake Chain, all in Kosciusko County. Additional emergency orders have been implemented restricting motorboat operation at the West Lakes Chain, consisting of Waldron, Steinbarger, Tamarack and Jones Lakes in Noble County, as well as the Indian Lakes Chain, Witmer, Westler, Dallas, Hackenburg and Messick Lakes in LaGrange County until further notice.
The American Red Cross has two shelters set up in Indiana. Shelters are currently open at the following locations:
- California Road Missionary Church, 29765 Co. Road 12, Elkhart
- Point Township Church of the Nazarene, 12611 Bonebank Road, Mt. Vernon
Cleanup kits are available at the Disaster Assistance Centers in Elkhart, Lake, and Jasper counties. Volunteer caseworkers are available to connect one-on-one with people to create individualized recovery plans, navigate paperwork and locate help from other agencies.
Those impacted by the flooding in need of Red Cross support are encouraged to call 1-888-684-1441.
Indiana residents should report UNINSURED damage through the online portal located at http://bit.ly/2018rainfall. It can also be found at dhs.in.gov under Featured Topics. The link is labeled “Indiana Damage Reporting for Heavy Rain and Flooding: February 15, 2018 and continuing”
Indiana residents with flood insurance should contact their insurance providers for instructions.
- As flood water moves south, some waterways in the southwest portion of the state have not yet crested. Hoosiers can find more information on INDOT routes that are currently closed due to flooding by using the INDOT CARS program online at indot.carsprogram.org or through the INDOT mobile app.
- Individuals can also call INDOT customer service at 1-855-463-6848. Check with city, town and county highway departments for the most up-to-date information on local roads affected by flooding.
- High water continues to require the closure of some roads, especially in the southern portion of the state. Do not ignore “high water” warning signs or drive around barricades closing roads for flooding.
HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS
- Well water in flood-affected areas may be contaminated with pathogens and be unsafe to consume. Residents who use wells should contact the local health department to coordinate testing to ensure their water sources are safe to drink.
- Mold is a real issue after a flood. Those affected should be instructed to remove any items from homes or businesses that have been wet for two or more days. A mixture of bleach and water (no more than one cup of bleach per gallon of water) can be used to on rigid surfaces such as countertops, floors, sinks and stoves and plastic toys. Mold can be growing and not be visible.
- Flood waters are not safe to swim in, play in or let pets and livestock be in. Flood waters contain various contaminants, chemicals and other dangerous pollutants that can make people and animals sick.
- No one who sees or experiences a disaster is untouched by it. Loss from flooding is no exception. Disaster stress and grief is normal, but there is help available if someone in the family needs mental health assistance/counseling. For information on human services, please visit the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration (FSSA). A list of counties with FSSA offices can be found online at http://www.in.gov/fssa/dfr/2999.htm.
FLOOD SAFETY AND CLEANUP
The Red Cross has provided steps for people to follow if their community is affected by flooding:
- People should stay away from floodwater. If someone comes across an area where water is above their ankles, they should stop, turn around and go another way. If they encounter a flooded road while driving, they should also turn around and go another way. If the car is caught in rising water, they should get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
- It is important to be especially cautious at night when it is harder to see flood dangers.
- Children are curious and should be kept out of the water.
- Continue listening to local radio or television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.If away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
- Before entering the home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damages.
- If the smell of natural or propane gas is present or a hissing sound is audible, leave immediately and call the fire department.
- If power lines are down outside the home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
- Make sureall food and water is safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater.
- When in doubt, throw it out!
- During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
In the aftermath of flooding and other natural disasters, property owners are vulnerable — making perfect targets for scammers pretending to offer help cleaning up wreckage and making necessary repairs. Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill recommends the following when working with someone offering services:
- Avoid agreeing to any repair or restoration work on the spot during initial contact with someone offering services – this includes contracts.
- Avoid signing any legally binding agreements without first gathering information and researching a business being represented.
- Obtain information about the individual offering his or her services.
- Research the company the individual claims to represent.
- Look for signs of credibility such as an official website.
- Seek reviews and testimonials from former customers.