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Residents along Kankakee River continue sandbagging as river levels elsewhere slowly recede

Casey Cox carries sandbags Thursday to help dam up the Kankakee River in the Shady Shores subdivision of Shelby.

John J. Watkins, file, The Times

Lake Station officials worked Friday to help residents displaced by flooding find assistance, while residents in far south Lake County continued to fight floodwaters along the Kankakee River.

The Kankakee was in major flood stage through Lake and Porter counties and moderate flood stage further upstream in LaPorte County. 

Forecasts showed the river was expected to remain at or above its record high of 13 feet through all of next week.

"The river seems to have crested," Lake County Commissioner Jerry Tippy said Friday morning. "It picked up a little bit overnight, from that little bit of rain that we got.

"Now everyone is just waiting for the water to go down and hoping that the banks remain stable." 

In Lake Station, the number of households affected by flooding grew to about 75. 

Officials: Report any damage

Displaced residents were being encouraged to contact the American Red Cross, Mayor Christopher Anderson said. A shelter was set up at New Life Community Church, 1 N. Pennsylvania St. in Hobart.

The Lake Station Fire Department on Wednesday began urging residents to evacuate homes between Wyoming and Oklahoma streets, south of Interstate 80/94 and east of Deep River.

Later Wednesday, residents and nine horses were evacuated at properties in the area of Clay Street and 24th Avenue, south of the Burns Ditch. An additional 10 to 15 horses were evacuated Thursday from an area off Colorado Street and 24th Avenue, west of the river and east of Bellaboo's Play and Discovery Center.

Anderson and others encouraged residents in Lake Station and other communities to report damages from flooding.

Homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofit organizations with uninsured damage caused by severe storms and flooding starting on or after Feb. 15 can report damage at

"One thing we can’t stress enough is for people to document and report any damage they have through that website," Anderson said. "Also, not to get rid of any damaged property at this point."

If the Federal Emergency Management Agency gets involved, its employees will need to physically inspect damage. Residents who get rid of damaged property could jeopardize any possible benefits.

"We don't want anybody to miss out on an opportunity to be made whole for the damage," Anderson said. 

City officials' first priority through the weekend will be helping displaced residents find assistance, he said. There will be a meeting 6 p.m. Monday at Lake Station City Hall, 1969 Central Ave., for residents impacted by the flood to learn about available aid, according to a city news release.

The city also will continue to monitor river levels and weather forecasts, he said. With rain in the forecast, river levels could rise or recede at a slower pace.

Sandbagging continues along Kankakee

Levees and sandbags continued to hold back the Kankakee River in far south Lake County, said Jody Melton, executive director of the Kankakee River Basin Commission.

"It's seeping through and there's water, but nobody is in a hot panic," Melton said late Friday morning.

Ind. 55 remained closed in both directions at the river. The northbound side of U.S. 41 also remained shut down. 

Lake County officials planned to close the bridge over the river at Clay Street, Tippy said. 

"The erosion is to a point that we're very concerned about the road," he said.

Residents in the Shady Shores subdivision in Shelby called Friday morning asking for help with sandbags, Tippy said.

A group of trustees from the Lake County Jail was sent to provide that help. A group from the jail also helped fill sandbags Thursday.

The Schneider Volunteer Fire Department received no reports of new levee breaches overnight, said Paul Channell, chief of training. 

Channell monitored conditions through the night. At last report, residents still were manning the pumps near the Wildwood subdivision, he said.

The area remained under a voluntary evacuation order, but no residents opted to leave for any length of time, he said.

A number of roads in Porter County remained closed because of flooding, officials said.

The river at Shelby was at 13.28 feet at 12:45 a.m Friday, down slightly from Thursday's levels. The river was expected to remain above its record high all of next week, according to the National Weather Service.

Residents will have to watch the levees closely for signs of failure, Melton said. 

"The water is not going over the top anymore, and we're just going to have to hang on and see what happens," he said.

Light rain possible this weekend

Melton said he wasn't too concerned about rain in the forecast Saturday.

Dan Repay, executive director of the Little Calumet River Basin Commission, said he didn't expect weekend rainfall to have much of an effect, but officials would continue to monitor conditions closely.

Officials opened the bridge at Kennedy Avenue near Hammond and Highland on Thursday night. Northcote Avenue near Hammond and Munster and Bernice Road in Illinois also have been reopened, he said.

Water remained high in Lake Station and Gary, he said.

Friday morning's rain didn't cause problems, but it didn't help, either, he said. 

A light wintry mix of precipitation is possible early Saturday, but is expected to turn to all rain by afternoon, the weather service said.

Check back at for updates.

Gallery: Flooding in Northwest Indiana


Public safety reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.