Red Cross opens relief shelter for West Lakes residents

Motorized watercraft banned on 10 area lakes

NOBLE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – The American Red Cross is opening a temporary shelter for residents living in the flooded West Lakes chain in Noble County. The shelter is located at the Rome City Elementary school, 400 Jefferson St. in Rome City. The shelter opened at 12:30 a.m. Sunday. Residents should bring a valid form of identification according to Mick Newton, Noble County EMA Director.

Orange Township Fire Chief Stan Loos is urging residents in the West Lakes area to leave. Loos fears any emergency response will be hampered by flooded roads.

He believes fire apparatus would have a difficult time getting to a burning home. Worse, Loos said in a statement anyone needed medical transport would first have to be rescued by boat and taken to an ambulance.

Loos said by telephone Saturday night around 15 to 20 residents remained in the area. He said fire crews spent the day turning off LP tanks around the lakes and based on that work came up with the number of residents who might still be around.

State and local authorities continue to closely monitor severe flooding in the West Lakes area.

Saturday evening, authorities met at the Orange Township Fire Department to discuss a basic response plan, according to Newton.

Newton said in an email that even without additional rain the West Lakes area will continue to see water levels rise. Newton said most roads in the immediate lake area are water covered and impassable.

Newton said at 7:30 p.m. Saturday the West Lakes Sewer System was forced to shut off on the north side of Waldron Lake and all of Jones lake due to a sink-hole.

Regarding the dam, Newton said the Sylvan Lake Conservation District continues to monitor the integrity of the Sylvan Lake dam. A no-motor order remains in effect for the lake.

Sylvan Lake is one of ten area lakes where the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has banned motorized watercraft because of elevated water levels.

They include:Sylvan Lake, West Lakes chain (Waldron, Steinbarger, Tamarack, and Jones) in Noble County and Dallas, Witmer, Westler, Hackenberg, and Messick lakes in LaGrange County.

DNR officials said high water levels on the lakes forced the prohibition. The bans are in effect until further notice, officials said.