Bloomington police share events of last month’s flood through the lens of first responders

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Businesses in downtown Bloomington are still recovering from June’s flood that saw waters invade restaurants and sweep away cars. On Thursday, law enforcement gave residents a look at the night of flooding through their eyes.

“That night we had 169, what we are going to call events, that’s not the total number of calls,” explained Bloomington police officer Scott Oldham. “No idea of knowing how many true calls we had.”

So many calls came into dispatch that the advanced system had issues separating calls. Bloomington police say it’s rare that you get a busy signal from calling 911, but it happened to some callers that night. Both dispatch and police were understaffed. At one point, officers were drawn to a person shot during a home invasion robbery. The suspects were on the run, but officers were having trouble getting to the scene.

“At a certain time there are no more people left, this is it, everybody is busy,” said officer Oldham.

Police say it’s important for people to have a game plan when it comes to getting out of a flooded car or home.

“You’re going to have to start fleeing upstairs, second floor, or attic,” described Oldham. “If you don’t have a way to bust out of the attic, don’t go there.”

Surveillance video shows the water rising over vehicles downtown in less than 35 minutes.

“When I came in here there was about five or six inches of water through the entire bottom area,” said Ian Fletcher, general manager of Osteria Rago, an Italian restaurant. “‘We just got over COVID, and all those restrictions. I come in see that five to six inches of rain, and it’s deflating. What do we do? Just opened our front door, and started shoveling water out for three to four hours.”

Fletcher continued, “[There was] obviously some sort of failure, I’m not an engineer, so I don’t know what went wrong. You hope the city steps up and does their part to let us now what went wrong, and to let us know how they will fix it in the future. Or, get assistance to business.”

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