Over the last week, heavy rain and storms have occurred, causing many rivers in Indiana to overflow their banks. County-level response has been ongoing, and the State Emergency Operations Center has been providing coordination and resource support.
On February 24, 2018, Governor Eric J. Holcomb issued a disaster declaration for 11 Indiana counties due to flooding, including Carroll, Dearborn, Elkhart, Fulton, Lake, Marshall, Perry, St. Joseph, Starke, Switzerland and White counties. This flooding has destroyed or caused severe damage to homes, businesses, structures and infrastructure. Today, on February 26, 2018, Gov. Holcomb added seven counties to the disaster emergency declared on Feb. 24. The new executive order adds Benton, Clark, Crawford, Floyd, Jefferson, Spencer and Warrick counties.
County Emergency Declarations: The following 19 counties have issued county emergency declarations: Benton, Carroll, Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Elkhart, Floyd, Fulton, Jasper,Jefferson, Lake, Marshall, Ohio, Perry, Spencer, St. Joseph, Starke, Switzerland, 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 continues to respond to requests for assistance from local officials. The State EOC has directly assisted counties by coordinating the delivery of over 750,000 sandbags, two water pumps, heavy equipment and vehicles, labor crews, traffic control, UAV photography and subject matter expertise on disaster response and recovery.
In addition to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, other agencies providing services include the Department of Natural Resources, Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana Department of Corrections, Indiana National Guard and the American Red Cross.
The State EOC will continue operating and monitoring the status of the ongoing situation across the state.
The State Joint Information Center was activated Monday, February 26, 2018, at noon.
Hoosiers 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 “Damage Reporting for Heavy Rain and Flooding: February 15, 2018 and continuing”
Hoosiers with flood insurance should contact their insurance providers for instructions.
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 has required the closure of several state highways and dozens of local roads in the state. Do not ignore “high water” warning signs or drive around barricades closing roads for flooding.
HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS
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 sure all 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.
For more information about actions before, during and after flooding, visit www.GetPrepared.in.gov.