News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 22, 2013

Valley residents doing their best to deal with rising water level

Wabash River reaches 31 feet, 9 inches in Montezuma

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Water levels along the Wabash River were highest along Montezuma on Sunday, cresting before noon at 31 feet, 9 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Carol Delks, and his wife, Tonya, said a small portion their home’s basement had less than 2 feet of water.

“It’s not that bad as the sump pump is pretty much keeping up with it,” Delks said Sunday as he watched the river flow through his backyard, covering the bottom half of an outside storage shed.

“It has never been this high, not in our lifetime. But, it’s already gone down maybe an inch,” he said of the river’s level at his Montezuma home he has lived in since 1999.

Sandbags had been placed along a small three-foot levee behind their home in the 800 block of North Water Street, but by early Sunday, water overtook the barrier. Delks said his home’s foundation is well-sealed.

Next door, at the Montezuma Fish and Game club, a 10-foot deep basement was filled with about 81⁄2 feet of water. Members calmly played pool inside the club, next to an open basement hatch where pump lines had been dropped.

“We’re trying to keep the water off the floor joists. The basement is flooded. The sandbags failed about 3 a.m. [Sunday], so we starting pumping,” said Mike Lang of Dana, a member of the club. “We are pumping about 200 gallons per minute on one pump. The second pump is not working too good,” he said Sunday afternoon.

The river had risen to about a foot below windows along a back concrete wall of the club. A covered patio was under water. Members could view the river along that area. “It is weird standing by the wall knowing the water is waist deep on the other side,” one woman said.

Jay Norris, 64, a lifetime resident of Montezuma and club board member, pointed to a photograph on the wall that showed the river flooding at the club on Jan. 15, 2005.  “In 2005, the water was just to that concrete wall, not as high as it is now,” he said. “There is not much you can do, just hope for the best.

“We have marks outside and the river is going down,” he said about 2 p.m. “We did find some water snakes out there,” he added. Down the road, a large section of Reeder Park was also under water.

Elsewhere in Parke County, Mecca Road was closed from high water, going within 100 feet of the Mecca Tavern. “This is common. Happens every time it rains or when they let water out at Raccoon Lake,” said Don Hockett, a bartender at the tavern.

Hockett said the high water does not stop business, “it’s just an inconvenience. People have to drive around” and enter the town from another road off of U.S. 41.

At Clinton, in Vermillion County, water from Feather Creek flooded several street blocks along the creek.

“I have lived here all my life, so I see this a lot,” said Don McIntyre, 44, who lives at Vine Street and North 6th Street, well above the river. McIntyre walked his dog to stand next to the edge of the water that covered North 6th Street.

“It has gone higher, but not much higher than it is now,” he said. “They are supposed to work on Feather Creek to prevent this, but they haven’t done much other than cut trees down.”

At Terre Haute, the river rose above 26 feet Sunday and was expected to rise to 27 feet today, according to the National Weather Service. A driving range at The Landing at Fort Harrison was flooded, but did not stop golfers from hitting the links, as the rest of the course was dry.

J.D. Kesler, deputy director for the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency, said water topped small sections of the Honey Creek Levee about 1 mile west of Prairieton, but was impacting agricultural fields only. EMA officials also looked at surrounding areas to monitor the river’s level, Kesler said.

“We are not in a position yet where we are totally fretful,” Kesler said Sunday.



Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.

greninger@tribstar.com.