Gary floods 4 days after storm

Ind. counties declared disaster areas
September 17, 2008 5:32:37 PM PDT
Residents in northwest Indiana are still waiting for floodwaters to recede.In Gary, dozens of people were displaced Wednesday by flooding - four days after the storm.

On Tuesday, one particular flood zone in Gary covered about three square blocks. On Wednesday afternoon, it expanded a great deal and now encompasses 12 square blocks. That led to a new round of evacuations and new frustration for residents who thought they were in the clear.

"It kept rising and rising," said Terry Spencer, who said she thought the worst was behind her. But days after the rain ended, the water began to rise in Gary.

Basements were filling up and people were fed up.

"This morning the water was at the back of the car. Now it's all the way around to the back of the house. I don't know what it's going to look like when I get home this afternoon," said Spencer.

"It's really ridiculous. All my stuff is under water," said Shakiea Scruggs.

Scruggs and her kids were among 30 evacuees who planned to spend the night at a park district field house. The reason, according to the private company that handles the water and sewer system, is that other communities are pumping their floodwater into the Little Calumet River. It's full, and because of that, Gary's sewers have no place to drain.

Those who thought they had filled their last sandbag were at it again. With a small snake and tadpole swimming in his parking lot, one man said he is more than a little angry that other people's problems are now pouring into Gary.

"I guess they figured the whole area flooded. Some of us that are high ground and have had extra drainage figured we'd be ok. I guess since we're not flooded, they're going to flood us out? I'm not sure," said Roland Walker.

And engineers from the firm that operates the water and sewer system confirmed that the floodwater contains diluted sewage and is unsafe. As for when the water will recede, that depends on the Little Calumet River. It inched down Wednesday, but not enough to help the residents and not in enough time to avoid a new round of flooding in Gary.

Parts of Munster and Hobart also remain underwater after record breaking rainfall this past weekend. Residents can only wait to find out when they can return to their homes to assess the damage.

Lake and Porter counties in northwest Indiana have been declared disaster areas because of heavy flooding. That means victims there will be eligible for financial assistance.

Crews are repairing a stretch of roadway along 73rd Avenue in Hobart that collapsed from the rainfall. When the road buckled on Sunday three vehicles fell into a ravine that runs below the street. Rescue crews managed to get the people out of their vehicles safely.

Another bridge in Hobart also sustained some damage. Repair work in underway to fix it.

Hobart's mayor estimates the cleanup costs to be at least $500,000.

"Where do you start? Because it is, it's going to be an awesome task for us. That's where you hope that the state and federal governments do understand the need. I did declare this as a disaster area. The state has followed, yesterday they also followed up with a declaration for lake county area," said Mayor Brian Snedecor, Hobart, Indiana.

The Borman Expressway remains closed in northwest Indiana. It has been shut down in both directions since Sunday.


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