Kankakee River expected to crest at historic level by Wednesday, flood victim aid arrives

JASPER COUNTY, Ind. (WLS) -- Despite the sunshine Monday, the waters along the Kankakee River in northwest Indiana are slowly continuing to rise.

Water from the Kankakee River continue to gush in through the breach in the levee near Hebron. Dozens of homes have been flooded, but not everybody is evacuating.
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The Kankakee River is expected to keep rising until Wednesday.

"I told them they should probably voluntarily withdraw. Most of the families have left. There is some that are still holding out hope that they can protect their homes," said Tom Fentress, Keener Township Fire Department.

By midday Monday, the Kankakee River was to 14.44 feet. It is expected to crest at an historic record of 14.9 feet by Wednesday.

Residents along the river are doing what they can to keep the water out and get on with their lives.

"We just carry all our supplies in. And we're not going to leave our house," resident Karen Cooper said.

Some relief reached Lake County, Ind., residents Monday night. Much-needed cleaning supplies, food and other necessities were gathered after the flooding forced the governor to declare a disaster in the county.

At City Hall, a question and answer session recorded residents' needs and offered guidance from county, state and federal officials.

"I know a lot of individuals have home owner's policies. The county can help you in that regard in terms of fulfilling your deductible," said Kyle Allen, Sr., Lake County Board of Commissioners.

Rigo Nunez had three feet of water in his basement. He's lost a lot.

"The water heater, the furnace. And just stuff we had in the basement and the garage," he said.

"It was helpful just to see that they are here, they're bringing everybody together and that they care," said Tamara Willsey.

Several horses were rescued from flooding in Lake Station. Willsey is glad her horses were not among them, but keeping them away from floodwaters is adding up.

"I'm boarding 5 horses at $50 a day and I can't continue to pay that obviously," she said.

But not everyone is happy with the response of local officials.

"They need to fix that hole, but no one is doing nothing. They just hang around and do nothing and say nothing, you know, so no one knows nothing," resident Al Gudenschwager said.

While the worst of the flood something near the river, thanks to the levee failure, the floodwaters actually extends several miles inland.

"There currently is 41 county roads closed right now, and that's per Gail Ackerman at the county highway," Jasper County Emergency Manager Karen Wilson said.

Nearly 20,000 sandbags are in use as much of this community is helping out battling the excessive floods.

"This community is 100 percent. We have turned people away that want to come and help. Whenever we have a problem, we're overwhelmed with help," Demotte Police Chief Tom Jarrett said.
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