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Brown County residents return to big mess after flood

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NASHVILLE, Ind. (July 15, 2015) - Goldie Lazzell remembers the last time flood water overtook her property off State Road 46 near Nashville.  That was seven years ago, in the 500-year flood of 2008.

But she says this week has been worse.

“It was up to my window there,” she said while pointing to her house.  “Three and a half feet of water, right up even with my window.”

Inside Goldie’s house, the kitchen floor is as wet and muddy as her front yard.  The house she and her family restored seven years ago will have to be redone again.

“There’s damage all through the house,” she said.  “But we did it before, and we can do it again.”

For Goldie, the flooding culprit was the nearby Gnaw Bone Creek, which had become choked with tree limbs and debris when torrential rains fell Sunday and Monday mornings.  The water had nowhere to go but up and out of the creek.  The water came up fast, and went down just as fast.  It was back down by Monday night.

For David Virgne, the culprit was a man-made pond, built next door to his property in rural Brown County.  When the skies opened up Sunday morning, the overflow crept up to his house much faster than he expected.

“I tried digging a ditch to divert the water away,” Virgne said.  “But it was pretty futile.  It was overrun pretty fast.”

A few hours later, about six inches of water had come in his garage, kitchen, living room and bedroom.  Virgne and his family are now trying to dry out and clean up.  And they haven’t had electricity since Sunday.

“Just bleaching the floors today and spraying the walls, trying to keep the mildew down,” Virgne said.  “And just hope we get power back on.”

Virgne was just one of about 2,000 Brown County residents without power by late Wednesday afternoon.  About 1,500 REMC customers were without electricity, and roughly 500 Duke Energy customers were affected.

IMG_6810REMC had additional repair crews working to restore power to residents.  But it was slow going, because of fallen trees resting on power lines.  The trees had to be removed before the lines could be repaired.

Then there's the mud.  Entire businesses that were under water earlier in the week are now covered in a coating of dried mud near the intersection of Salt Creek Road and State Road 46.  One car had mud going nearly to the top of the front windshield, indicating how high the muddy water had risen.

In addition to power, some residents were also dealing with a lack of running water.  Water service was not flowing to homes on nearly 20 roads around the county.  Boil water orders that were issued earlier in the week were to remain in effect until Friday.

IMG_6808Emergency Management workers spent Wednesday collecting supplies and the Brown County YMCA before delivering them to residents who were returning to flooded homes.  More than 10 families had been put up in a local hotel until they were able to return to their homes.  The YMCA was serving as a “relief center” for those who needed to take shelter.

Officials were urging drivers to be on the lookout for florescent paint markings on dangerous roads.  The Brown County Highway Department ran out of orange cones after blocking off dangerous areas.  They are now using the paint to alert drivers to roadways that may be compromised by flood water.