Share your memories and thoughts on the impact of last year’s flood

This weekend will mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the flood that stranded hundreds of people in South Central Indiana for days as high water inundated their homes and businesses.  

As much as 10 inches of rain fell in parts of our already-soaked region on June 7, 2008, leading to tens of millions of dollars in damages.  

For SCCAP, the flood waters forced us out of our Martinsville office, threatened our Spencer office, and mobilized our staff in trying to help affected people in all four counties we serve.

The floods spurred a huge relief effort in which many organizations and individuals worked together to help those whose lives and possessions were washed away. Yet, even now, there are people in our area, especially low-income people, who haven’t been able to return to their damaged homes.

So what stands out in your memories of last year’s flood? What did you see and experience during and after the floods, and what impact has that had on you? 

And are you aware of any lasting hardships the floods have had on people in your community? Is there more the rest of us can to do to help?

Please share your thoughts and memories by posting your comments here.

Also if you have any pictures of the flood, resulting damage or clean-up effort that you’d like to share, email them to me at doug@sccap.monroe.in.us and I’ll post them here.


12 thoughts on “Share your memories and thoughts on the impact of last year’s flood”

  1. Saturday – We could not believe the flooding was as bad as it was being reported. We left Bloomington and headed to Martinsville only to be turned away shortly after crossing the county line. National Guard helicopters circled low in the sky around us and when asked why we were trying to get to Martinsville we replied, “we have a business office there and wanted to check on it’s condition” the officer barely looked at us and said,”not today”.
    Having talked to a co-worker earlier, we knew there was water in the parking lot that led to the office.
    The trip up 37 was eye opening and grim. The creek on Bottom Road was a vast lake, as were Griffy and Bean Blossom Creeks, miles of lake-like water, swallowing trees and sometimes, not very far from the road.
    It would be another day before any news came.

  2. Thanks, Christine. You got a first-hand look at the flooding along 37, which I only heard about from people who had their travel plans thrown off by the closed roads that weekend.

    I mostly saw the worst of the flooding in pictures – from the surrounding counties and from Bloomington where the water was several feet high rushing into some IU buildings.

    A strange story I had that weekend – although certainly far less important than many people’s experiences at the time – was as a reporter for The Herald-Times. We heard that IU’s football field was damaged by the water, so I took a drive over to Memorial Stadium and ran into some players who were checking out a large crater in one end zone caused by pressure from water running under the field. I took a photo of one of the players, Dustin Haas, standing in the indentation in the field.

    My photo ended up running in USA Today and some other major newspapers, as well as in the H-T, which surprised me. IU ended up having to buy a new artificial football field that cost more than $400,000.

    After taking that photo and writing a story about the sinkhole, I went home to find a near-flood at our house in Ellettsville. I spent part of the day Saturday doing whatever I could to unplug sewers and sweep rushing water in them so it wouldn’t run into our home.

  3. The flooding of June 2008 was a stressful time for SCCAP staff and clients. Several days were spent searching for clients who were forced from their homes because of the flooding. SCCAP staff teamed together to help clients and also clean out the Martinsville office that was under atleast 4 feet of water. We were able to provide clients with hotel rooms and assist them with relocating. Some clients were unable to return to their homes for three months.

    One client told me that she was assisted out of her second story apartment. She simply climbed over the balcony railing of her apartment and stepped into the rescue boat. An elderly client also told me that she was taken to the high school in a rescue boat that drove down 37. She had lived in Martinsville her entire life and told me that this was the first time she had ever seen so much water.

  4. I sat in the driveway of my house listening to the radio as the reports got worse and worse. I saw helicopters flying over my neighborhood and tried to contact family, friends, and co-workers over the cell – no luck. My neighbors had a son in Heather Heights Apartments and they came walking up the street with wet clothes saying they were boating people out. I knew that our office was hit and worse, many of our clients were now homeless. I was able to talk with local EMS workers and got information about the location of the emergency shelter. My clients were at Eastview Church and then they were making plans to move them to the high school. This meant that many of our clients with small children, mental illness, or chronic medical conditions were being sheltered in an environment that couldn’t be anything but stressful and eventually harmful due to their conditions and ages. Through the assistance of the Salvation Army and IHCDA we were able to get clients in to hotel rooms and work with local health providers to get oxygen, insulin, and other necessary items to them quickly and effectively. Over the next few weeks the SCCAP staff worked together to get the office back up and running while organizing the local social service response to the disaster and forming the LTRC. I am proud of my community and our staff. We faced this disaster together and we are continuing to recover successfully. There is more work to do, while our clients are safe and sound the community is still battling infrastructure issues. We are under a boil order again today. In the last week I have moved a flood victim back into her original home. The flood was a terrible experience, but the recovery helped to prove to all of us what a strong and determined community we have here in Morgan County.

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  6. “Driving up to vacation in Michigan with my children and when we happened upon Martinsville, it was amazing. Both side of the highway were flooded and in fact flowing over into the road! we were sent on a detour through town, leaving 37 for several miles. I remember seeing all the cars sitting in the dealership parking lots with water up to and above the headlights, thinkng ‘they can’t sell those!” All the rain and flooding scared my children (then 7 and 9).”

  7. Spencer had not been hit this hard by a flood for over 100 years. Our clients were severly impacted. Some who did not have to evacuate due to the flooding, still had to leave their homes as the electricity was disconnected in their neighborhoods to thwart additional potential hazard.
    Out of the disaster came lots of networking with disaster recovery teams. The Salvation Army and the Red Cross stepped up and assited a lot of not only our clients, but others who were displaced and had never seeked any type of assistance before.
    As a result of the flood and its devastation, the Rebuild Owen County Committee was formed as well as its subcommittee; Affordable Housing. ROCC has managed to place a great many of the displaced families, but many were forced to leave the county to find housing. ROCC is currently working with around 40 families, some who are still looking for housing, as well as some who are dealing with mudslide damage from dam breaks.
    It is an ongoing problem, and will not resolve quickly, but folks are perservering.

    1. Positive from the negative. When we drove to Spencer the water was moving up the streets toward the Court House square. I also noticed a small group of horses huddling on the side of a hill as we came in on 46.
      To be able to get groups networking and the forming of ROCC is truly amazing, I hope this group continues its mission for years to come!

  8. The devastation of the flood occurred in the dark of night and almost too quickly for some to comprehend what was happening to them. My cousin, Brian, who lived in Martinsville, was awakened by his cat who had jumped into bed with him to escape the rising waters. When Brian sat up he was in water already to his knees. By the time he was able to get out of the house it had risen to shoulder height. Brian manage to get himself and the cats to higher ground and safety. He lost everything in the flood. His home was condemned with severe structural damage and his vehicles were total losses. Just 3 weeks ago he was able to move into a new home of his own. The last year was spent with insurance forms, endless piles of paperwork, disappoints,tribulations and the frustrations of countless deadlines to meet as he dealt with FEMA and other agencies trying to help him move forward with his life. The effects and memories of the events of that one dark night will be with Brian for the rest of his life.

  9. Remembering the flood from last year is bittersweet for me. I woke to the torrential rains in my Brown County home, just a stone’s throw (and uphill) of the devastated Trevlac area. All day Saturday my husband and I wore our rain gear and worked on shoring up the dams to the private lakes/ponds in our neighborhood, one of which is partially ours and is our water supply (among many other pleasures). We feared the dams would breach, as water was rushing over the top, eroding the dam back into the lake. If those dams went, they’d only exacerbate the flooding that was already affecting the Trevlac area downstream.

    Exhausted that night, we thought of nothing else than our space. We were trapped as the road we must cross to get out has a bridge, with Bear Creek, was completely under rushing waters. The next morning I got the call from work, saying our Morgan County office was compromised, but we had no idea to what extent. Management staff was to convene that day (Sunday). I was now only entering my sixth week on the job.

    Honestly, that week is truly a blur. A handful of staff joined me to evacuate the Martinsville office on Monday. Our local staff in Martinsville pulled together to have temporary, secured storage, and locate another available office space that day for us to move into by Tuesday. Central staff held down the fort, making calls, securing contracts, getting services coordinated for us to set up shop on Wednesday. We were back and running full, but limping and exhausted, operations by Thursday. I don’t want to remember the smell and feel of everything we handled. Dumpsters were overflowing and hard to come by. People were everywhere, helping one another. Water was not drinkable and it was unbelievably hot!

    Six weeks on the job. It showed my true colors to my colleagues, like it or not. And it certainly showed me their true colors. I can honestly say that the nightmare that was Martinsville for our office could not have been so easily transitioned without the very difficult work on the ground by: Kelly (and her wonderful son and son’s friends), Jennifer, Mary, Kathleen, Bryan and Edward!

    All four of our service counties were affected by the flood of 2008; not a single one is completely recovered. Long-term recovery committees are actively engaged in each county. Jennifer was instrumental in getting Morgan County’s going. Linda and I continue to serve on Brown County’s; and I participate some in Monroe County’s. We know that those survivors are the most complicated cases to help transition to normalcy. We know that it takes 18-24 months for full recovery, and that’s no kidding.

    As the spring to early summer thunderstorms begin to bless us with their power, I now listen with a hint of trepidation that it might be just too much. I’ve always loved thunderstorms, good ol’ gully-washers; but the flood of 2008 reminded me of the true strength of water, good and bad.

  10. I worked with Chris along side Bryan and Kathleen to help move our Martinsville office from the muck and sludge that covered most of the town. The smell of the stagnant water and from the sewer systems being flooded out into the streams and ponds and the look on peoples faces that were displaced was something I will remember the rest of my life. Every where you looked people had everything they owned piled up in their front yards. Businesses were destroyed and many people standing around in total disbelief of what had happened so quickly. Along with everything else the heat was unbearable and the mosquitoes were having a field day. We worked through most of the week trying to save our files and office equipment and bringing water to our surrounding offices so they could distribute it to the families without power or water. It was a total combined effort of Management and staff that came together and brought us out the other side. Although the flood was devastating and unforgettable my life was made better from the shear combination of human spirit and will that brought everyone together as a team. Every where you looked there were people helping each other, everyone lending a hand where they could. I am sorry that it all happened but truly proud to have been apart of the clean up crew and effort that our company provided.

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