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.
Sheriff: Investigation affecting department’s current police work
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department is putting the best possible face on a string of allegations lodged against one of its deputies.
Greencastle Council seat will remain vacant for now
The Greencastle City Council is still waiting to learn the appropriate next step in dealing with one of its members who is facing federal allegations of civil rights violations while in his role as a Putnam County deputy.
Former pitcher Tommy John now saving lives
Terre Haute native Tommy John is well known for his illustrious major league baseball career, which spanned 26 years and included 288 victories.
Downtown housing project on schedule
Demolition of buildings fronting Wabash Avenue from Sixth Street west to Fifth Street is on schedule to be completed by the end of this month, with construction of a new five-story building to house Indiana State University students and retail shops starting in April, said Nicole King, marketing coordinator for Thompson Thrift.
Where no one follows the law
Loughmiller’s Pub across Washington Street from the Statehouse is a favorite hangout for legislators and lobbyists who like the tavern’s menu of gourmet burgers and craft beers. State police are regular lunch customers, as are state officials who regulate the sale of alcohol.
Terre Haute man facing felony arson charges
A Terre Haute man faces a charge of class-B felony arson in connection with an August garage fire.
Stolen gun, drugs found in search after traffic stop
A traffic stop Monday night on Third Street led to the arrest of a Terre Haute man on drug-related charges and recovery of a stolen handgun that had belonged to a Vigo County Sheriff’s Department reserve deputy.
Vigo election board to give presentation at NAACP meeting
A presentation by the Vigo County Election Board will be the focus for the March 17 meeting of the Greater Terre Haute Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Merom Water being acquired by Indiana American Water
Merom Water, a municipal water utility with approximately 125 customers, has been acquired by Indiana American Water, the company announced on Tuesday.
Vigo County Council approves software updates
A software upgrade that aids Vigo County emergency dispatch officers could be adapted to allow citizens to send in photographs of accidents.
ISTEP+ testing begins today in Indiana
The student body of Woodrow Wilson Middle School issued a collective battle cry on Monday as it began a week of standardized testing.
Red Cross kicks off fundraising campaign
Disaster can hit at any time, whether from a tornado or fire that leaves a family homeless.
Man arrested on multiple burglary charges
A Montezuma man has been arrested in connection with residential burglaries in Parke and Vigo counties and on suspicion of illegal sale of firearms.
$1.4 million revamp of Third Street in works
Plans to spruce up Third Street through downtown are taking shape.
New principal picked for Hoosier Prairie
Hoosier Prairie Elementary has a new principal, Jennifer Russell, effective today.
Possible bookkeeping 'abnormalities' under scrutiny at TH airport
State authorities are investigating possible “bookkeeping abnormalities” at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.
UPDATE: Putnam deputy indicted
A Putnam County Sheriff’s deputy who also serves as a Greencastle city councilman has been indicted by a federal grand jury on allegations of deprivation of civil rights in his police duties, and he has been placed on administrative leave as a deputy.
Police: Meth organization dismantled in Vigo County
Five people face criminal charges after police dismantled an alleged methamphetamine organization in Vigo County, according to an Indiana State Police news release.
Canvasing families: Mothers confront life with diabetic children
Four Wabash Valley mothers who sat around a circular table Thursday night couldn’t hold back tears as they talked about their children’s battles with a lifelong disease and their hopes for helping other affected families.
MAX JONES: Newspapers can be fun, too; check out Readers’ Choice
Smart and savvy newspaper readers (that’s all of you, of course) know full well that their daily consumption of news and information isn’t an exclusively high-brow pursuit.
Changed wording to SJR-9 delays debate on right to hunt, fish
A much-debated ban on same-sex marriage wasn’t the only proposed constitutional amendment to get knocked off of this November’s ballot. Gone, too, is the less contentious proposal to protect Hoosiers’ right to hunt and fish.
You’re home now: A veteran’s Midwest move that almost wasn’t
To say that Michael Curry was stressed is an understatement.
A service member who has been in the U.S. Army for more than 21 years, he had just arrived in Vigo County with his family — wife, four teen-age children, mother-in-law and two dogs — when he learned the home loan he had obtained in Texas was denied.
Valley lawmakers assess legislative session’s trials, tribulations
As state legislators head into the final week of the state legislative session, five of them from the Wabash Valley met with citizens Saturday at the Vigo County Public Library in downtown Terre Haute and engaged in conversation about the “ups and downs” of the recent session.
Families often unaware of helpful groups for kids with disabilities
One Saturday morning event in Terre Haute aimed to raise awareness about the resources available to people with disabilities.
Spotting pot, gun in home nets 2 arrests.
Two adults were arrested and two children removed from a Vigo County home on Friday after drugs and a handgun with altered serial numbers were discovered in the home, authorities said.
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY: Focus on poverty, inequality
The issues of poverty and inequality will be at the forefront of the 13th annual Terre Haute Human Rights Day on March 18 at Indiana State University.
VIDEO: Tasting their way to a cure
People appeared to be in high spirits Friday inside the historic Indiana Theatre as they gathered for an evening of wine, food and conversation while supporting efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.
Same-sex marriage: 4 couples sue state over ban
Four gay couples from southern Indiana sued the state Friday, seeking to force Indiana to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state and issue licenses to same-sex couples.
Time to check smoke alarms
Three years after a house fire on South Nine Street in Terre Haute resulted in the death of three people, a Terre Haute grandmother still wonders if the outcome of that fire would have been different if smoke detectors in the home had been working.
Indiana State Board extends president’s contract
Indiana State University has signed up Dan Bradley, the school’s president, for an additional three years of service.
- More News Headlines
- Sheriff: Investigation affecting department’s current police work