Heavy rain fuels widespread, minor flooding

Flooding is expected to subside Friday as colder temps return, the National Weather Service said. 

Posted on Feb. 20, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.

ELKHART — The results of winter’s wild weather collided with the first hint of spring Thursday as strong rains helped create minor flooding across the region.

Homes and businesses began combating flood waters early Thursday amid heavy rains and melting snow. Motorists throughout Elkhart County were greeted with large pools of standing water along roadways that also contained a growing number of submerged potholes.

Catch basins, clogged with ice, contributed to problems.

While the flooding appeared to be minor, the city of Elkhart exhausted its supply of 3,000 prepared sand bags Thursday.

More than a dozen city employees were scheduled to work overnight to fill more bags, said Christie McCray, who oversees office services for the street department.

Sandbag locations

Elkhart County has piles of sand and bags available at three locations for the public to use. Those include:

■ The highway facility on C.R. 7, just north of the county jail

■ Near Six Span Bridge at the boat landing

■ Near the scout cabins on C.R. 46 west of Ind. 15.

The city of Elkhart has sandbags at the street department, 2421 S. 17th St., after 8 a.m. Friday. Sand and bags were also available for self service before the street department opens Friday.

In the meantime, the city has more sand and bags available for self-serve at the street department until Friday morning.

As for pre-filled, “We’ll be up and running by 8 a.m.,” McCray said.

McCray spent much of the day overseeing the distribution of sand bags and talked to some of the folks who needed them.

“They’ve said the water is just moving up so fast and coming right into the doors and garages,” McCray said.

However, flood conditions were expected to subside Friday.

A flood warning issued by the National Weather Service that included Elkhart County was set to expire by 8:30 a.m. Friday as colder temperatures return.

Parts of northern Indiana saw three-quarters to nearly 1 1/2 inches of rain prior to nightfall Thursday, and the resulting melted snow was the equivalent of 1 to 2 inches of rain, said Nathan Marsili, a meteorologist with the weather service.

While Elkhart County will continue to see standing water Friday, the amount of melting will significantly decrease, thereby minimizing further flooding conditions, Marsili said.

But for some, the big melt-off was already creating problems.

Wallace VanHook said he got a call from his wife while at work and was told their garage on Ninth Street in Goshen had several inches of standing water. He was filling sandbags with two other people at the Goshen street department around noon Thursday.

He worked with two employees from IU Goshen Health who were there to get about 50 bags for the hospital as a precaution.

“It’s been a long time since it flooded like this,” VanHook said.

The flooding reminded him of conditions in the early 1980s.

“I remember when we had to canoe by the Taco Bell when (water) got all the way to the top of the pavilion at Rogers Park," he said.

The thought of those conditions repeating themselves was worrisome.

“I hope not,” he said as he continued to help fill bags.

At Weldy Enterprises, a manufacturer of agriculture and livestock equipment in Wakarusa, work ceased Thursday when a few inches of water flooded the shop.

Two workers from Weldy picked up two loads of sandbags from the county highway maintenance facility on C.R. 7. A pump was being used to remove the standing water inside the business.

“Unfortunately, it’s around our welding equipment, so it stopped our productivity for the day,” said Christina Cordell, office manager for the company.

She said they hope to get back to work Friday, but worried about a forecast that included another chance of precipitation Thursday night.

“It depends on what we walk into in the morning,” she said.

Minor flooding was also reported at the Dunlap offices of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County. Parts of Ethos Science Center on Industrial Parkway in Elkhart sustained soaked carpets.

Despite the warmer temperatures and rain in recent days, colder temps are in the forecast. Highs on Friday and Saturday will be just above freezing, and highs on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday will be in the 20s, the weather service said.





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