Two Ind. counties declared disaster areas

September 16, 2008 4:42:13 PM PDT
Three days after the Little Calumet River rose to a record 17.32 feet, the flood waters are slowly receding in northern Indiana. The river still remains several feet above flood stage. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels declared two counties disaster areas Tuesday after getting a first-hand look at the flood damage.

Daniels toured flooded areas in northwest Indiana. He says Lake and Porter counties are in need of federal assistance.

"We have several counties down south that were hit very hard, too. But what matters most is securing the federal systems. That process of assessment is beginning right now," said Daniels.

Between the tornado in June and now the flooding, Governor Daniels is calling on Mother Nature to stop picking on Indiana. Now that he has declared the county a disaster area, the next step is to formally ask the federal government for help.

The sun may have been shining in Munster Tuesday, but moods are anything but bright and cheery as hundreds are going on their third day without their homes. Many are counting on the visit of the governor to pave the way for help.

"We'll be establishing a one-stop facility where all the agencies, state, federal and volunteer, who might provide assistance to citizens will be centrally located," Governor Daniels said.

The Red Cross arrived Tuesday to help those calling Munster High School home. With food, toiletries, even dog food, the high school has served as a temporary shelter. The Seagraves have been here since Sunday.

"I've resigned myself. I know that it's there, what are you going to do? You've got to accept it and go from there," said Don Seagraves, resident.

"We're making the best of it. We're enjoying ourselves here. They're very good to us," said Josie Seagraves, resident.

Munster residents living in 450 homes were forced to evacuate. No one is allowed back in unless it is an emergency and a boat is the only way to get there.

"My husband needs his medicine. He has very bad trouble. He called the VA because he's a veteran, and they told him no," said Bertha Geren, resident.

Many had to leave so fast, the only thing they took were the clothes on their backs. Gary McNamara came back to his home Tuesday morning to rescue his daughter's rabbit.

"You wonder what do you take? You're out of your house. What do you take with you?," said Gary McNamara, resident.

At this point, there is no telling when people and their pets will be able to return to their homes. The water has receded a bit, but it still has a long way to go.

And then there is the cleanup. Before then, all the homes are going to have to be deemed safe in order to get back in.


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