Water, water everywhere. And not a drop that anyone should try to drive through.
Rescues of motorists stranded by high water has kept area emergency responders busy since early Thursday, while some communities are keeping an eye on the Wabash River and nearby creeks that have overflowed their banks.
At the Mecca Tavern in Parke County, water from the Little Raccoon Creek had crept across and closed the county road, and the rushing water was within a few feet of the local watering hole’s foundation.
“We’re watching it,” said Becca Griffin, second lieutenant at the Mecca-Wabash Township Fire Department. “If we have to sandbag, we will have a load of sand brought in and dumped by the tavern and fill the sandbags there.”
But, she said she didn’t think sandbagging was likely. The last time the creek water rose high enough to flood buildings was in 2005, she said.
Far across the floodplain near the 1973 Mecca covered bridge, however, area residents were keeping an eye on the rising water.
Montezuma residents Paul Bartlow and wife Diana were out checking the county road conditions leading to the area known as Rabbit Town. Paul, who drives a school bus for the Southwest Parke Community School Corp., said he was concerned because he had picked up two children in the area during a morning route, but the water had risen too high for him to take them home.
By 3:20 p.m., however, Bartlow had gotten the children back to their family.
“We had a couple of other situations like that near Bridgeton,” Superintendent Leonard Orr told the Tribune-Star. “We made other arrangements to drop kids off at a relative’s home or maybe a grandparent. But we got them all home.”
Along the eastern bank of the Wabash River, the crowd at the Montezuma Fish and Game Club said they weren’t concerned about the rising water … yet.
“I don’t think we have anything to worry about,” said Tom Newlin, who expressed more concern about his fishing nets. “When the water reaches about 30 feet here, then we start sandbagging.”
The water level around noon was at about 24 feet at Montezuma, according to the measuring post at the public access site maintained by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
In 2005, flood water came into the Fish and Game Club, Newlin said, so they built a flood wall that will handle water up to 32 feet. Most of the town sits higher away from the river, but, some farmland north of town went underwater when the water rose above 24 feet.
In Vigo County, the Sugar Creek Fire Department sent its water rescue team to assist two stranded motorists due to the rising water.
The first run was an assist for the Riley Fire Department. Shortly after 3 a.m., the water rescue team was called to Eastwind Drive about 3 miles south of Riley for a vehicle stalled in high water. Two adults and a dog were rescued for their vehicle, which stalled in three feet of water.
At about 1 p.m., the Sugar Creek team went to First Street near Ryman Drive where one person was trapped in a flooded vehicle. Battalion Chief Matt Pape said that while motorists will be taken to safety, their vehicles will be left where they stall until the flood waters recede.
“Some people aren’t paying attention, and they think they’re better than the last person who turned around. So, they drive in and their car stalls, and they’re stuck,” Pape said. People who do get stranded should use a cell phone to call for help, or flag down other motorists to call for help. No one should enter the water to assist, since swift moving water can knock down a person and cause additional danger.
DNR Conservation Officer Jet Quillen reported several motorist rescues during the past 24 hours, and said there were likely others he hadn’t heard of as of early afternoon Friday.
Conservation officers assisted with 2 rescues in Greene, 3 in Putnam, 4 in Owen, and 6 in Morgan counties.
In one case in Putnam County, a conservation officer went into the rising water to assist two Cloverdale residents who were trapped on the roof of their vehicle with the water rising quickly.
At about 3:30 a.m., Chris Springstun, a 4-year veteran of the DNR assigned to Putnam County, was dispatched to a vehicle stalled in the water from Deer Creek which had surpassed its banks and was quickly rising above Jackie Dunn Road near Reelsville. By the time Springstun arrived at the scene, the water had nearly reached the roof of the vehicle, and he reported that completing a boat based rescue was not possible due to the vehicle location and water conditions. As a member of the Indiana Conservation Officers dive team, he quickly donned his dry suit, swift water vest and grabbed a rope bag. With the assistance of a Putnam County deputy, they were able to reach an area where Springstun was able to secure one end of the rope to a tree. He then entered the water and was able to swim to the vehicle and secure the other end of the rope to the vehicle’s trunk, creating a static line that Springstun used to remove both subjects from the water and back to safety.
Upon completion of that rescue, Springstun then learned that a volunteer firefighters truck was washed off the road while responding to the scene. Springstun and other first responders located the truck that had been pushed over on its side from the force of the fast moving water. They were able to launch a boat and reach the driver, who was transported back to dry ground.
The Reelsville area of Putnam County, which is just east of Clay County along U.S. 40, has seen historic flooding due to the Thursday rainfall.
Reelsville-Washington Township Fire spokesman John McPherson said the department handled 10 water rescues, including four evacuations of residents from their homes along Big Walnut Creek.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, McPherson reported that the creek had not yet crested, and it was above 17 feet. Flood stage in that area is 12 feet.
If the water continues to rise, he warned, U.S. 40 could be closed. The four-lane highway was already closed several miles east in Hendricks County at Stilesville, where Mill Creek was flooding the area.
The lowlands south of Interstate 70 in Putnam County were also flooded, with several local roads closed.
Big Walnut Creek flows south and joins Deer Creek to become the Eel River, which flows south through Clay County. McPherson predicted that the communities of Bowling Green and Clay City would see more flooding on Saturday.
As of 3 p.m. Friday, the Wabash River at Terre Haute had reached 21.46 feet. Flood stage is 14 feet. And moderate flooding occurs at 22 feet.
In Vigo County, deputy director J.D. Kesler of the county’s Emergency Management Agency said no sandbagging had begun as of Friday afternoon. Several county roads had been closed by the county highway department, and he warned motorists not to drive around barricades and risk getting stranded in flood water.
To get updates on local weather conditions, issued by the National Weather Service at Indianapolis, go to www.crh.noaa.gov/ind.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.
Communities keeping watchful eye out as river continues to rise
Water, water everywhere. And not a drop that anyone should try to drive through.
Honor awaits 181st Intelligence Wing
As he sat on his mother’s lap inside the Air National Guard Base at Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field on Sunday, little Henry Shultz was all smiles as he waited for the start of a ceremony recognizing his father’s service to the community and the country.
‘The mind is a dark forest’
If you hadn’t noticed by reading this newspaper or hearing me crow about it myself, I have another collection of stories out in print.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Hoosiers’ priorities vs. legislators’ agenda
Every year at about this time, Statehouse reporters like me ask lawmakers what their priorities will be for the coming year.
Restaurant Inspections: Dec. 9, 2013
Operation Warm Christmas: Giving warmth
Crews from a Wabash Valley heating and cooling business traveled in two different directions — one went north and the other south — during the early, cold Saturday hours with one mission for the day: to bring warmth to two Terre Haute homes this season.
Small tax, big Statehouse fight
Who would have believed that old fork lifts, barber chairs and aging computers could capture the attention of so many folks around the state?
‘A part of living history is now gone’
With the death of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a “giant of history” whose fight for justice and spirit of forgiveness continue to serve as an inspiration to many, say those familiar with his legacy.
Pepsi, oil and gas agreements on School Board agenda
The Vigo County School Board will consider an agreement with Pepsi and an oil and gas license with Pioneer Oil when it meets at 6 p.m. Monday.
Q&A: Wabash Valley legislators reply to questions on business tax proposal
Wabash Valley legislators reply to questions on business tax proposal
Indiana lawmakers face ambitious agenda in short session
Lawmakers are crafting an aggressive agenda for the new year that includes a tax break for businesses, preschool funding for the poor, road spending and a divisive constitutional amendment — all packaged into a so-called “short session” of the Legislature.
Sifting the ashes: Prairie Creek First Baptist Church
The cause of a late Thursday fire that destroyed a 137-year-old church sanctuary may never be known due to the intensity of the blaze.
Miracle on 7th Street: Snow just in time
It was cold and snowy in downtown Terre Haute Friday, but the holiday spirit was very much alive at the annual event, Miracle on 7th Street.
Tim Meadows: SNL cast member knew he was prime time
If you watched the first broadcast of “Saturday Night Live” on Oct. 11, 1975, raise your hand.
That gives you something in common with Tim Meadows.
City slickers: First heavy snowfall of season leaves roads slippery through night
Snow and ice covered roads, cars, buildings and homes in the Wabash Valley late Thursday night and throughout the day on Friday as the first winter storm of the season moved through the area.
Four-car crash leaves 1 dead
A four-vehicle crash in eastern Vigo County led to the death of a 51-year-old Brazil woman Thursday evening.
Former Sen. Richard Lugar receives Chapman S. Root award.
Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, recently praised by President Barack Obama for making the world a safer place, visited Terre Haute Thursday to receive the Chapman S. Root award.
Wabash Valley prepares for today’s snow and severe drop in temperatures
The weather outside was more frightful Thursday night than it was expected to be this morning, as an icy mixture of precipitation played out. But snowfall is expected to continue today to accumulate up to seven inches in the Terre Haute area, according to the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.
Lilly grants $5M to 3 Vigo colleges
Three Terre Haute colleges will benefit from a combined $5 million in Lilly Endowment grants intended to help students find “meaningful” employment after graduation.
Otter Creek Twp. moves forward on bond issue
Otter Creek Township officials Thursday unanimously voted to approve a lease agreement that moves the process forward on a proposed $1.8 million bond issue to construct a new seven-bay firehouse, which will replace a current building that sits in a flood zone in North Terre Haute.
Mayor asks for $5 million ‘tax anticipation’ loan
Mayor Duke Bennett asked the Terre Haute City Council Thursday night to approve a “tax anticipation” loan of up to $5 million that must be repaid in up to three years.
39 Indiana schools get Lilly grants
Indiana’s 39 accredited colleges and universities will receive a significant boost in improving opportunities for their college graduates to find meaningful in-state employment as a result of $62.7 million in grants from Lilly Endowment Inc., the organization said in press release on Thursday.
Special admission, activities tonight at Children’s Museum
The Terre Haute Children’s Museum is joining in today’s Miracle on 7th Street with discounted admission, an appearance by a live reindeer, holiday-themed stories and activities, music provided by the ISU Holiday Choir and an opportunity to write a letter to Santa.
United Day for United Way of Wabash Valley to be Jan. 17
United Way of the Wabash Valley is scheduled to make its final push to hit the $1.85 million campaign goal with its annual United Day for United Way on Jan. 17.
Poll of Hoosiers finds growing support for legalizing pot, opposition to marriage amendment
Legislators may balk at the idea of easing the penalties for marijuana, but a new poll shows a majority of Hoosiers support legalizing the drug and taxing it like alcohol and tobacco.
The same poll finds that a strong majority of Hoosiers oppose amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions.
INDOT to have I-70 lane restrictions in western Indiana
Construction crews are scheduled to finish several small road repair items on Interstate 70 now through Dec. 14.
Ivy Tech announces academic restructuring
Ivy Tech Community College will restructure its academic divisions to better align programs with potential career and transfer tracks for students and aid in retaining students, the school said Thursday in a press release.
Pence unveils legislative agenda
Gov. Mike Pence is calling on the Indiana General Assembly to increase spending on education, roads and job development while ending a $1 billion-a-year tax on business that funds local governments, schools and libraries.
Indy developer interested in vacant ISU towers
The walls of Indiana State University’s Statesman Towers won’t be tumbling down anytime soon, despite a planned demolition that is now on hold.
Terre Haute gives out art grants
The City of Terre Haute backed its support of local arts organizations with funding on Wednesday, as grants totaling $21,500 were presented to seven nonprofit organizations.
The extra step: Feed company gets special certification
Graham Feed Co. in Terre Haute has attained a Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification from the American Feed Industry Association.
- More News Headlines
- Honor awaits 181st Intelligence Wing