Disaster declaration for Jefferson County, IN as homes, businesses flood
MADISON, IN (WAVE) - High water has caused a flooding emergency in some parts of Indiana.
Jefferson County called a disaster declaration Sunday from flooding on the Ohio River. Monday, Governor Holcomb told people in Madison, Indiana that the county will be added to the state's disaster declaration he's signed for more than a dozen other counties.
"It is incredible to look out and see all this water," Stephanie Hellman, a longtime resident of Madison, said.
The riverfront Hellmann is used to seeing is sitting under feet of river water from the Ohio.
"The benches are long gone," she said. "I mean, they've been underwater for days and you can just barely see the tops of the light posts."
"This one is high but it's not the highest I've seen," Hurley Adams told us.
Adams said he calls Madison home now but he's lived here and across the river in Milton, Kentucky for much of his life. He was down by the riverfront Monday, checking out this flood's water levels. He's seen every flood here since 1937.
"I remember all of those," Adams said.
Flood waters are filling some homes and businesses around southern Indiana. The high waters from the Ohio are blocking the usual route to the popular Lighthouse Restaurant, which sits on the riverfront.
"The Lighthouse floating restaurant is still hanging on," Hellmann said, looking over at what remains of the entrance and outdoor area on the restaurant. Locals say where the bar normally sits has been smashed away, the walkway turned over.
Around town, more than 100 homes and businesses have been impacted by flooding, according to Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Troy Morgan.
"Yeah, it's just a sight to see," Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said. Monday, Holcomb and other community leaders toured the flood damage to the area.
"Very personal," Gov. Holcomb said. Having attended nearby Hanover College, he said this part of the state is well loved by him and by the people who can and will bounce back from this.
"We've all got friends here first and foremost," the governor said. "And we can all rebuild and we do and we have."
Once the water goes down, the cleanup can begin. Prisoners who helped people in town move their belongings out ahead of the water are now helping with the clean up here.
People around town plan to pitch in too, ready to rebuild where they can.
"It's team work. Doesn't happen without it," Holcomb said.
The river at Madison crested early Monday, EMA Director Morgan told us. Now comes the hardest part.
"Waiting for the water to rise, as hard as that is, is almost the easiest part of this process," Morgan said. "So once that water starts to recede, the real work can begin."
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security said they've set up a flood hotline for people to call with questions. That will be staffed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. That phone number is (317) 238-1784.
Copyright 2018 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.