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Munster put through flood control paces

Public works employees place sandbags on Northcote Bridge in this Sept. 4, 2015 file photo at the Little Calumet River in Munster as a part of flood control training. A flood warning has been issued for the Little Calumet River at Munster and much of the Kankakee River in southern Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.

A flood warning has been issued for the Little Calumet River at Munster and much of the Kankakee River in southern Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.

Unseasonably warm, moist air arrived Monday in Northwest Indiana, complicating the morning commute with fog. Temperatures rose into the high 50s, according to the National Weather Service.

Showers and thunderstorms were expected through Wednesday.

Rainfall totals of more than an inch were possible, with 2 to 4 inches in isolated areas, forecasters said. The heaviest totals were expected in southeast Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties and areas south from there.

A combination of rain, snow melt and frozen ground could increase the threat of flooding, forecasters said.

The flood warning for the Little Calumet at Munster was scheduled from Monday night to Thursday afternoon. Moderate flooding could occur, forecasters said.

The river was at 8.5 feet at 8 p.m. Monday and could rise to 16.3 feet late Tuesday into early Wednesday, according to the weather service. The record high is 17.3 feet.

Dan Repay, executive director of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission, said Monday afternoon levees on the Little Calumet could handle a 16-foot rise in water, but it would likely cause some road closures.

He said communities impacted by the river — Hammond, Highland, Munster, Griffith and Gary — have emergency plans in place in the event of major flooding.

“We are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best,” Repay said.

In October, construction completed on the Hammond Levee Tieback, one of the final levees built as part of the Little Calumet River Flood Risk Management Project. The project included 22 miles of levees and floodwalls, as well as a control structure at Hart Ditch.

Every segment of the flood control project has been ranked “minimally acceptable” and “active” by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which means that if there is a major flooding event similar to the 2008 flood, with caused $800 million in damages, federal funds would be available for repairs and remediation.

The Kankakee River at Shelby was measured at 9.1 feet by 8 p.m. Monday and could crest at 12.9 feet by early Thursday, resulting in significant flooding. At 13 feet, water approaches the tops of levees, Sumava Resorts experiences significant flooding and Ind. 55 becomes flooded, the weather service said.

The Kankakee River at Davis in LaPorte County also could experience significant flooding. The river was at 9.3 feet Monday night and could crest at 13.1 feet by Thursday. The record high is 13.8 feet.

The Kankakee River near Kouts and at Dunns Bridge in Porter County could see moderate flooding.

The river at Kouts was at 9.25 feet Monday night and could crest at 13.7 feet late Sunday into Monday. The record high is 14.5 feet.

The Kankakee at Dunns Bridge was at 8.5 feet Monday night and could crest at 12.6 feet late Sunday into Monday, Feb. 26, the weather service said. The record high is 13.4 feet.

Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties were under a food watch from Monday night to Tuesday night, according to the weather service.

LaPorte County was under a flood watch from 11 a.m. Monday to Wednesday afternoon.

A flood watch means flooding is possible. Residents are encouraged to montor forecasters for the latest updates and flood warnings.

Residents in flood-prone areas should be prepared to move to higher ground if flooding occurs, the weather service said.

Despite the warm-up, shelf ice remained along the Lake Michigan shoreline, prompting a warning Monday from the nonprofit Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

The nonprofit issued a warning that walking on shelf ice is extremely dangerous after it received reports of two groups of people walking on shelf ice near Gary's shoreline last weekend. A person easily can fall into hidden holes in shelf ice, with little chance of climbing out.

See photos shared by our readers depicting winter in the Region here: