Indiana News

Flooded Areas of Northern Indiana Named Disaster Area

1/16/2008

The American Red Cross has named parts of northwest Indiana a national-level disaster area after last week's floods destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of residents.

Debbie Elsner, executive director of Tippecanoe County Red Cross, said the declaration would allow more than 50 volunteers from across the country to reinforce the local agency's efforts.

The volunteers will help with recovery efforts in the 17-county region, with headquarters at Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette.

Elsner said the volunteers have different specialties, from administrative functions to disaster health care. They will work with the region's nine local Red Cross chapters to help flood victims with short-term recovery efforts.

The national disaster declaration is the first for the area since major tornadoes struck in 1994, Elsner said.

"Flooding is one of the worst types of disasters we see because of the extent of the damage and type of damage," Elsner said. "With flooding, it takes days even just to get in and assess the property, whereas with a tornado you know within minutes."

State officials on Wednesday had begun assessing damage in the areas where the waters have receded, said Pam Bright, spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

The state will decide whether apply for federal disaster help after assessors calculate how many homes were destroyed or had major or minor damage, she said.

"We most likely are going to apply," she said.

Three people, including two children, died on Jan. 8 during the flooding across much of northern Indiana. Hundreds of homes were damaged, mostly in rural counties between Lafayette and South Bend. White and Carroll counties were among the worst hit.

Water levels in the Tippecanoe River, which feeds the Wabash, have dropped, and many residents have begun assessing whether they can rebuild.
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