Utica braces for flooding, again

Utica, IN residents prepare for flooding

UTICA, IN (WAVE) - The rising Ohio River is bringing a sense of deja vu for Utica, Indiana residents as they brace for high water in the small community again.

“It comes up quick,” resident Steve Appleby said.

Front Street in Utica is the frontline for rising water on the Ohio. Appleby’s home in Utica where he’s lived for the past few years backs right up to the high waters.

“Never thought I’d be doing this again, almost a year exact later,” Appleby said.

He and his family packed boxes, while some things loaded into the moving truck for safe keeping still haven’t been unpacked from last year’s flood.

Appleby said FEMA money and insurance covered a lot of that damage, but not everything.

"Insurance didn’t cover the deck, the back of the deck rose up on me so we had some damage on that,”Appleby said. “Most of it wasn’t too bad, just finding a place to live for four months.”

Keeping an eye on the river level, he’s hopeful this year they’ll be spared the big damage.

“It’s a roll of the dice every year,” he said.

As residents wait to see just how high the waters on the Ohio River will rise, sandbags now protect parts of the town most at risk for flooding. The sandbags are filled by inmates from the Clark County Jail, on loan to help the community prepare.

All around the riverfront town, people are rushing to fill moving trucks before the roads are blocked off by water.

“I was just trying to hurry and get my stuff up on out of here,” resident Sam Sellers said.

Tuesday morning, Sellers and his family were out in the rain loading up what they could.

“You just never know, I’d rather be safe than sorry," Sellers said.

Inside goes blankets, clothes, photos that can’t be replaced.

Even as they move stuff out of their homes, Utica residents hope flooding isn't as bad as last year.
Even as they move stuff out of their homes, Utica residents hope flooding isn't as bad as last year. (WAVE 3 News)

“This is the most important stuff right here," Sellers said. “So as long as we get this out before anything else, we’ll be okay.”

He hopes all this work will be for nothing, that the water will spare their home.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do if the flood does hit, because we don’t have anywhere to go,” Sellers said.

Flooding in 2018 left them with four feet of water in their home. He said the water was high then, joking that it’s one of the worst floods he remembers.

"I wasn’t here for the ’37 flood obviously,” he said. “Or the ‘97.”

Still -- this is home. And here, flooding is something you get used to. Many neighbors said the days living on the river help make up for the days spent in it.

“For the rest of the year, it’s worth it,” Appleby said.

Much of the community preparations are going well on-schedule, according to Utica Emergency Manager Curtis Wells. It’s been a little unusual to have back-to-back-to-back floods, which has been frustrating for many in the community, he said, but they’re well-prepared for the water.

“We do have a eight inch pump running, provided by the Jeffersonville, Clarksville sewer district," Wells said. “It turns itself off automatically and that’ll pump a lot of water out.”

He and others around Utica are keeping a close eye on the river levels. Wells said they’re expecting lower flood levels in the town than they saw last year.

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