Ice jam floods Indiana creek, forces evacuations

5:24 PM, Feb 21, 2014   |    comments
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Lafayette, Indiana (jconline.com) -- Rescuers carried Jean King to dry, safe ground in the darkness of the early hours Friday, and from that safety she watched the waters rise and worried about her home on Barton Beach Road and her belongings.

"Somebody called and said look outside, and I looked," she said. "And my car already done for.

"About 2 this morning, they brought me out in a boat."

Those neighbors who stayed behind were rescued shortly after sunrise.

Large chunks of ice in the Wildcat Creek dragged uprooted trees and downed branches to the area on either side of Schuyler Avenue bridge. There the ice pack became so dense, nothing was moving except the water under the ice, and it chose it's own path, jumping the banks and flooding the Barton Beach area below the bridge and the Eisenhower Court area upstream of the bridge, Tippecanoe County Sheriff Tracy Brown said.

"Right now, we're dealing with an ice jam near the mouth of the Wildcat Creek where it joins the Wabash River," Brown said Friday morning. "So that has the Wildcat Creek backed up.

"We have been out a couple of times now - the first shortly after 1 o'clock this morning to evacuate some families. Our crews are back on the scene again doing the same thing."

David and Carla Johnson were among the group of Barton Beach Road residents plucked from their homes.

"About 1:30 this morning, we had a flash flood," David Johnson said. "The ice broke loose. The neighbor called screaming, and by the time I got to the door to look out, the water was already surrounding the house. The vehicles were under water.

"Worst we've ever seen it, and we've lived here 30 years," he said. "We've seen floods, not quite as high as this, back in '03, but it's a good 10 foot deeper now than it was in '03.

"There's big chunks of ice in there. It's rough."

Carla Johnson said, "I hope the water goes down as fast as it came up."

Given how fast the water rose, it's not likely Johnson will get her wish. Brown said the water rose very fast starting around 1 a.m.

"It's completely unpredictable as to how high this water may rise again," Brown said.

By Ron Wilkins, Journal and Courier

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