Rome City, Ind. (WANE) – From mid-April through mid-May, the West Lakes area in Noble county saw nearly 12 inches of rain. Obviously that much rain will cause flooding, but more than two weeks later, the area is still flooded. Steve M. has been taking a canoe to and from his house for those last two weeks. He bought his property on Waldron Lake last year, and the previous owner warned him about the flooding. That’s why Steve, like many of his neighbors, made sure he had flood insurance. He said it’s been tough, but neighbors are coming together to help. His house has electricity, but no water or sewer service.
The water on Waldron Lake has already fallen 9 inches,and Steve estimates it now drops another one inch each day. At that rate, he will still be canoeing for another couple weeks before the water will be low enough to drive a raised truck to his house. Michael Newton, Director of Emergency Management in Noble County, says this flood qualifies as a 100-year flood. That means, statistically, a flood this bad will only happen once every 100 years. He has never seen flooding this bad in this area. The Red Cross has been providing food at the West Lakes Marina for displaced residents and installed a temporary trailer where residents can do laundry and shower since their sewer system has been shut off.
Phil Bloom, Director of Communications for Indiana Department of Natural Resources, cited a study done by the Silver Jackets to explain this flooding. That study shows that 36% of homes on Waldron Lake are in a 2-year flood plain, meaning statistically half of those homes should flood each year. His point is that flooding should be expected on Waldron Lake. Bloom went on to explain Waldron Lake is the narrowest part of a funnel. Water comes into Waldron Lake from Sylvan Lake and the Indian Lakes chain in addition to nearby streams/rivers and rainfall. Water only flows out of Waldron Lake through the Elkhart River. Bloom explains there’s often more water coming into Waldron Lake than can flow out. That was made exponentially worse by the foot of rain that fell in one month.
Bloom went on to explain that logjams and debris are not the problem here. Yes, there is debris in the water and some has been removed. In fact, the DNR had grant money specifically designated to removing logjams, but they couldn’t use all the money because there wasn’t enough debris in the river. He then pointed out that no single entity is responsible for cleaning the river. The DNR supervises the rivers as it pertains to rules and regulations and will clean some of the larger debris blockages. Smaller spots of debris can be cleaned up by the community, neighborhood association, or residents as long as they do so safely and within the DNR’s regulations.