Severe storms crippled central Indiana with as much as 10 inches of rain Saturday and spawned tornadoes that ripped up roofs and flipped tractor-trailers in Wisconsin and the Chicago suburbs. The floods in Indiana threatened dams, inundated highways and forced the Coast Guard to rescue residents from swamped homes. To the northwest, Chicago-area residents ran for cover as tornadoes touched down throughout the region. Wisconsin had a few tornado injuries, and at least one injury was reported near Chicago. Indiana had been spared any reported deaths or injuries. "At this point, mercifully, we believe all Hoosiers are secure," Gov. Mitch Daniels said at a news conference. "We hope that will continue."
Daniels declared an emergency in 17 counties as the Coast Guard was called in to help with flooding that has forced hundreds of people from their homes. Ninety percent of the small town of Paragon, southwest of Indianapolis, was underwater, State Homeland Security Director Joe Wainscott said. Water reached the first floor of Johnson Memorial Hospital in Franklin, but no patients had to be moved, county Commissioner Tom Kite said. "We have dams failing in the Prince's Lakes area," threatening the town of Nineveh, about 30 miles south of Indianapolis, Kite said. Indiana State Police reported evacuations in the Lake Lemon area about 10 miles northeast of Bloomington. Dams near Gold Point were close to collapse, police said. Interstate 70 was closed in Clay County in west-central Indiana, and Interstate 65 and another major route, U.S. 31, both were closed near Franklin.
In western Indiana, water more than a foot deep surrounded homes on Terre Haute's east side. U.S. 41 was the only route open into Terre Haute, and it was down to one lane by mid-afternoon. J.D. Kesler, deputy director of the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency, said more than 200 people had to be rescued from their homes, vehicles and nursing homes there.More than 30,000 electricity customers lost power, the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission said. Near Chicago, Will County Sheriff's Department spokesman Pat Barry said a tornado damaged several homes in the Wilmington area and toppled trees and power lines. A person was injured on Interstate 57 in the southern suburbs, and a swath of the major highway closed as authorities worked to clear overturned trucks, said State Trooper Mark Dorencz. Tornadoes were also reported in Lake County, north of the city, and in Livingston County, to the southwest. Central and southeastern Wisconsin were pelted with baseball-size hail in a storm that blew roofs off homes, toppled trees and power lines, and injured at least six people.Flooding built up around Milwaukee, where water as deep as 2 feet in roads caused parked cars to drift and closed parts of an interstate highway. Midwest storms bring floods and twisters
We now know The Indiana Department of Homeland Security said Sunday morning that two people had died as a result of flooding, but did not immediately release details. One of the fatalities was confirmed in Columbus. Record flooding was ongoing Sunday morning on the White, Flatrock and Wabash rivers. About 150 residents were evacuated from a nursing home in Morgan County. More than 250 patients and employees were evacuated from Columbus Regional Hospital late Saturday. Authorities said anyone with relatives who were at the hospital can call 812-372-3789 to find out where they have been taken. The hospital is expected to be closed for some time. State Homeland Security Director Joe Wainscott said Saturday that officials had no idea how many evacuations had taken place, many by boat, but no fewer than several hundred homes and businesses were affected. The U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard, Indiana Task Force One and local agencies were involved in rescues.
Ninety percent of the small town of Paragon, southwest of Indianapolis, was underwater Saturday morning, Wainscott said. Flooding was also extensive in Terre Haute and Spencer, he said. Johnson County Emergency Management Director Forrest Sutton told 6News that the flooding was "likely the largest and most costly disaster we've ever had." Gov. Mitch Daniels issued a new disaster declaration because of flooding in 10 counties, separate from the one he issued Friday for 41 counties because of storm damage. Those counties are: Brown, Clay, Greene, Johnson, Monroe, Morgan, Owen, Shelby, Vermillion and Vigo. The U.S. Coast Guard dispatched two rescue helicopters to Indianapolis, where they could be sent to flooded areas as needed. A scuba team had performed swift-water rescues and helped evacuate homes in Johnson County, sheriff's dispatcher Zachary Elliott said.
Dams in the county failed in the Prince's Lakes area, threatening the town of Nineveh about 30 miles south of Indianapolis, county Commissioner Tom Kite said. Water had reached the first floor of Johnson Memorial Hospital in Franklin, Kite said. Cars were submerged up to their windshields in the county government building parking lot, and Indiana National Guard troops rerouted traffic around the main street through Franklin. Numerous Roads Closed; Some Roads Washed Out Eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 reopened in Clay County late Saturday, but westbound lanes remained closed because part of the interstate had collapsed. Motorists were detoured in the area. Interstate 65 reopened in both directions at about 9 p.m. Saturday after it was blocked for several hours near Franklin.
U.S. 31 was closed in Johnson and Bartholomew counties, stranding many motorists who had no place else to go. In Morgan County, state roads 67 and 37 were both closed. Statewide, 25 state and interstate highways remain closed, homeland security officials said. Numerous county roads in the affected areas were damaged or had bridges that were washed out. Record Flooding Expected as Hundreds of rescues were made Saturday as flooding ravaged a large part of central Indiana. Please look at the multitudes of Blogs and videos so you can keep up with this!
* This was A downpour that included an apparent state record of 11 inches in Edinburgh, Ind., soaked an area between Terre Haute and Bloomington Saturday, sending rivers over their banks and sweeping away vehicles, the Indianapolis Star reported. The fatality was reported in Columbus, Ind., where authorities found a man dead in his flooded car. Floodwaters were expected to recede Sunday, authorities said. National Guard troops fanned out across the area searching for flooding victims as patients in a Columbus hospital were evacuated to escape rising floodwaters. The Star reported many roads and highways in central Indiana were closed due to standing water. The severe weather came only two days after Indiana was raked by tornadoes that resulted in disaster area declarations for 41 counties, the newspaper reported. "Mother Nature has landed another one on our chin," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said after he declared an additional 18 counties disaster areas Saturday. Hold on!