Winter Flood Cleanup Continues in Upstate Indiana

May 14, 2008

Many residents are still trying to get their lives back in order three months after winter floodwaters inundated homes across a large swath of northern Indiana.

The flooding that began Jan. 7 damaged more than 800 homes and caused more than $33 million in damage stretching from Lafayette to South Bend to Fort Wayne. Federal disaster aid was eventually approved for 21 counties in that region.

“People don’t realize it, but there are a lot of folks with a lot of needs out there,” said Alan Welch, director of Disaster Assistance for Northwest Indiana, a long-term recovery agency formed in response to the January and February floods.

Teams from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee Disaster Response program, often called “green shirts” because of their attire, will go door to door in flood-damaged areas of Monticello and Remington and along the Tippecanoe River in Carroll County.

They’ll interview residents about their situation and identify their needs. Walk-in centers will be open so that people can get specifics answers.

“We will ask people about three areas: construction, household and personal,” said Garry Den Besten, an assessment team leader who will conduct surveys.

Welch’s group, also known as DANI, will examine the results and prioritize the needs, which could include replacing furniture, offering mental health counseling or helping with construction.

More than 1,300 people applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants in DANI’s eight-county area of focus, Welch said. Of those, he expects 130 individuals and families will need additional aid.

Some people have already gone to FEMA and applied for and received up to $28,800 in flood recovery funds, he said.

“But much of the damage was much, much greater than that amount,” Welch said.

FEMA has estimated that $1.2 million will cover the residents’ needs and DANI’s operational costs for about 18 months, Welch said. That estimate includes construction and replacing household items.

But Welch hopes volunteer work and donations will lower the amount of actual cash needed.

All the funding will come from donations and grants.

More than 30 local faith- and community-based organizations that make up DANI will be the initial responders to the requests. The groups are from Tippecanoe, Benton, Carroll, Cass, Fulton, Jasper, Pulaski and White counties.

Source: Journal and Courier.

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