The East Fork White River crested at nearly a historic level early Wednesday and began its gradual descent to back within its banks.
The falling water level, however, provided little relief to Conservation Officer Phil Nale, who was involved in a least four rescues Tuesday and Wednesday.
Early Wednesday, Nale was called to the area of the Shieldstown Covered Bridge to retrieve Larry Burdine from his cabin along County Road 300N.
Burdine is no stranger to Nale because he often calls as floodwaters rise, Nale said.
“He always waits to the last minute,” Nale said. “I’ve asked him what’s going to happen when he calls and I can’t come right away.”
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the East Fork White River at Rockford crested at 19.53 feet. According to the National Weather Service, that’s the fourth-highest crest since records have been kept.
The highest was 21 feet on March 26, 1913; the second-highest was 20.91 feet on June 8, 2008; and the third was 19.67 feet on Jan. 5, 1949. Flood stage is 12 feet, and the river is not expected to fall below that mark until midmorning Saturday.
As Nale was on his way to Shieldstown to retrieve Burdine he was called about a report of a motorist who drove into floodwaters near St. Paul Lutheran Church Borchers in the far northern part of the county.
Lt. Andy Wayman with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department said he and Nale were able to rescue that motorist near a bridge over White Creek.
“He was sitting in the bed of his pickup,” Wayman said.
Nale said he was involved with two water rescues Tuesday.
One involved a man and a woman and her two dogs in the 1600 block of South County Road 375W in the Vallonia area. The couple called dispatchers at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 9:11 a.m. and reported they were surrounded by water but were not in danger. Nale went out in an airboat and brought them to dry land that afternoon.
The second rescue effort Tuesday occurred in southern Bartholomew County and involved a couple of people in a home, Nale said.
Duane Davis, director of the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency, said it’s too early to determine the extent of damage caused by the storms and flooding. However, he does know there will be damage to report.
“My office has been flooded all week,” Davis said Wednesday. “My floors are drying out now, and it’s just enough I can start getting back in there.”
His office is in the basement of the courthouse annex at 220 E. Walnut St. in Brownstown.
Davis said he lost some communications capability when lightning struck a tower at the annex during a storm early Sunday. That lightning strike knocked out telephone and Internet systems for offices in the annex and many in the nearby courthouse, Davis said.
Those systems likely will not be back up until sometime today, he said.
Other than that, Davis said, he had not heard of any damage to homes, although he is sure there will be some when the floodwaters subside. He plans to spend the next few days checking areas, especially those along the rivers, for potential damage.
He recommended that anyone with damage take photos before, during and after repairs for both insurance purposes and to help if the damage is reported as part of efforts to obtain a federal disaster declaration.
He said he is keeping in touch with the county highway department to follow up on any roads damaged by flooding.
Chip Orben with Duke Energy in Seymour said Tuesday evening that he expected all power to be restored to customers in the city by midnight that day.
That included Walmart, which remained without electricity and was closed after the power was knocked out by Monday afternoon’s storm. That storm resulted in six electric poles along U.S. 50 in front of Walmart snapping and falling on nearby businesses, including Seymour Express Carwash, Royale Auto Sales and the Speedway gas station.
Orben said extra utility crews were mobilized to Seymour to help remove and replace the damaged poles.
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Hoosier homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofit organizations that sustained uninsured damage caused by recent severe storms and flooding may report damage online at https://myoracle.in.gov/hs/damage/ia-public.do?method=active&incidentId=IA20150708112230.
A link to the form also is available on the Indiana Department of Homeland Security website at www.in.gov/dhs. In the middle of the page under “Featured Topics,” click on “Report Damage from Severe Weather, Flooding – June 7 and continuing.”
Uninsured damage from other storms and flooding starting on or after June 7 also may be reported.
Damage reports will be used to help local emergency management agencies and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security with preliminary damage assessments and to determine if federal assistance can be pursued.
This is not an application for a grant with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Individuals will be asked to provide their name, address, phone number and type of damage the property sustained. Losses can include structural damage to homes and loss of personal property.
For information, contact your county emergency management agency. In Jackson County, that number is 812-358-6100.
Contact information also is available at http://www.in.gov/dhs/2797.htm.
Individuals without Internet access may contact a friend, family member or neighbor for assistance. Web access is also available at many libraries, religious institutions, community centers or other public facilities. If none of those options is available, individuals also may contact their county emergency management agency to report damage.