LAKE STATION — Residents in at least 35 Lake Station homes threatened by floodwaters were asked to evacuate Wednesday as Deep River continued to rise.
The evacuation was not mandatory, but officials strongly recommended residents leave and continued to watch the river closely, Lake Station Mayor Christopher Anderson said.
Firefighters in special water suits had boats on hand in case residents needed to evacuate pets or take items with them.
About 2 to 3 feet of water surrounded some of the homes and water pooled in many yards in an area bounded by 27th and 29th avenues and Wyoming and Oklahoma streets just east of Deep River and south of Interstate 80.
Anderson said residents were being asked to leave as a safety precaution. Some refused to leave, possibly because they've experienced flooding in the past and feel they know best when it's time to go, he said.
"We're just praying right now that it does not get substantially worse," he said.
Several waterways converge in Lake Station, so much depends on the flow of water, Anderson said. Some of the water comes from areas to the south, while some comes from areas to the west.
Lake Station firefighters assisted the U.S. Geological Survey with a boat to repair a gauge on Deep River near 29th Avenue and Wyoming Street.
The gauge at Deep River indicated the river was at 19.3 feet, Fire Chief Chuck Fazekas said. That was higher than an earlier reading of 17.8 feet. The river crested at 22.1 feet during the 2008 floods, officials said.
If the water rises any more, some roads could become completely impassable, he said. Residents who refuse to leave were asked to give addresses, so they can quickly be located later if they call 911 for help, he said.
The fire chief said he was closely monitoring another area — near Clay Street and 23rd Court and west of Clay Street near Benton and Cass streets — because of rising waters. He may begin evacuations there if conditions worsen, he said.
City officials and NIPSCO were in communication about possibly shutting off services to Lake Station customers as a precaution because of flooding.
Fazekas said Wednesday night firefighters continued to evacuate families with use of boats and were considering evacuations in other sections of Lake Station.
Hobart officials closely monitoring Lake George Dam
City officials in Hobart on Wednesday continued to closely monitor the Third Street and Wisconsin Street bridges and the Lake George Dam, where the water is now at the same level on both sides, Nikki Lopez, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, said.
Hobart Public Works Director John Dubach said the water at the dam has risen 17 feet since the start of the intense snow melt and rainfall, he added.
“We’re going to watch the lake, and watch the river, and make sure nothing happens,” he said.
In Hobart, water rushed under the Third Street bridge over Lake George, and part of Wisconsin Street remained closed because of flooding. Water flooded sitting areas and parking lots along the lake in the downtown area.
Lopez said several roads in Hobart remain closed to the public, including Cleveland Avenue at Linda Street, Arizona Street, 33rd Avenue, Fifth and Sixth streets, and portions of Wisconsin Street near the bridge. All areas of Front Street and County Line Road are covered with water, but passable at this time, but Lopez urged drivers to use caution.
The Indiana Department of Transportation opted to shut down Ind. 51 north of Ind. 6 earlier Wednesday, Lopez said.
Dubach said more than 1,000 sandbags were filled with help from residents Tuesday night and are available at Festival Park overflow parking, next to the rugby field, he said.
Lopez said sandbags were placed at the Lake George Dam to help direct the flow of water.
She said there has been no need for evacuations of homes in Hobart, but city hall has received several calls from residents regarding basement flooding and localized flooding in and around residences. Crews have been working around the clock, she said.
NIPSCO shut off service to five customers in the 2900 block of East Cleveland Street in Hobart, spokeswoman Kathleen Szot said. There was standing water in the area, but NIPSCO crews had not yet determined what caused a line to leak, she said.
The National Weather Service said drivers should never attempt to cross flooded roads or go around barricades. "Turn around, don't drown," a statement said. At least two people were rescued from vehicles Tuesday in Porter County.
Salt Creek overflowed its banks near the Salt Creek Commons subdivision in Union Township, flooding nearby low-lying areas. The creek rushed through a culvert under Ind. 130 early Wednesday.
Little Calumet begins to crest
The Little Calumet River crested in Hammond, Munster and Highland and was expected to crest in Gary late Wednesday, said Dan Repay, executive director of the Little Calumet River Basin Commission.
Repay said the water was flowing upstream toward East Gary, Hobart and Lake Station. Conditions upstream could worsen before they improve, he said.
"I'll be checking to make sure they're OK and they don't need anything," Repay said. "Gary has done a great job of implementing the plan."
The Little Calumet and Deep River converge in the Lake Station area and both flow to Lake Michigan in Portage.
Hart Ditch in Dyer, which is downstream from the Little Calumet in Munster, crested about 9 p.m. Tuesday, he said. The ditch rose to 14.47 feet late Tuesday and had fallen to 10.08 feet as of 7 p.m. Wednesday, the weather service said.
"It's a domino effect," Repay said. "We watch Dyer, because we know that's the feeder."
Several roads in Munster, Hammond and Gary remained closed along the Little Calumet River. Exit ramps from Interstate 80/94 to southbound Kennedy Avenue and Kennedy Avenue south of the highway were closed because the river is dangerously close to flooding the area.
Hohman Avenue and Calumet Avenue were closed temporarily for standing water, but had been reopened, he said.
At its highest, the Little Calumet at Munster stood at 16.35 feet feet at 6 p.m., rising more than 10 feet between Monday morning and Wednesday morning, according to NWS. The levels had fallen to 15.86 feet as of 7 p.m. The record level is 17.23 inches.
Repay said he was aware of a couple of homes in Highland in the area of the Cady Marsh Ditch where crews sandbagged in the back yard as a precautionary measure. He had not been informed of any significant flooding damage, he said.
Repay planned to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers later Wednesday to review the flooding response. He hoped to have a complete report on what was done well and what could be improved by next week, he said.
The Little Calumet River Basin Commission wants to hear from residents who experienced flooding or have other concerns, he said.
Residents should call the commission office at 219-595-0599.
Residents on Kankakee evacuated
Jasper County officials evacuated some residents along part of the Kankakee River early Wednesday and closed a number of roads, said Jody Melton, executive director of the Kankakee River Basin Commission.
The Kankakee River at Shelby was at 12.86 feet as of 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and could crest at 13.4 feet — above its record high of 13 feet — by late Wednesday or early Thursday, according to the weather service.
Melton said Jasper County crews sandbagged near homes along the Kankakee from the former Marty's Place restaurant and east until about 1 a.m. Wednesday, but then decided to evacuate residents.
A couple of big ditches in northern Jasper County have broken, forcing road closures, Melton said.
"There's water everywhere," he said.
Melton said he was told late Tuesday that Sumava Resorts residents in Newton County were standing by. A pump was running and everything was OK, he said.
Melton planned to visit the Shady Shores subdivision in Shelby in Lake County later Wednesday.
"We've got a couple of levees north of DeMotte on the Kankakee River that I'm kind of worried about," Melton said.
Jasper County officials also were dealing with flooding to the south of their county, he said.
Areas south of the Kankakee river valley could see light freezing rain, sleet and snow into early Thursday morning.