‘It’s a sight they won’t easily forget’. Rainfall guts Bloomington FD Station 1 rendering it uninhabitable

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The floodwaters have receded in Bloomington since heavy rain fell Friday, but many buildings are still uncovering damage. 

That includes the Bloomington Police Department building at 220 East Third Street and the Bloomington Fire Department’s Station 1 building at 300 East Fourth Street. 

The BPD building suffered damage to electronic, computer equipment and some furnishing but normal operations are expected to continue at the building while the building is thoroughly cleaned, and repairs are made. 

Station 1 however seems to have received the brunt of the damage. Fire crews say they expect damages to easily surpass their $100,000 deductible and the fire house has been deemed unusable until further notice.

“Weights, a treadmill, we have a carpool car that’s been destroyed, communication equipment, a fax machine and scanner we literally just got, drywall we’ve had to gut, carpet we’ve had to rip up, our phones don’t work, we don’t even receive dispatch calls,” Deputy Fire Chief of the Bloomington Fire Department Jayme Washel said. “There’s a lot of different things and a lot of money in equipment that’s gonna need to be replaced in order to get this place back into being our home like it was before the flood – not to mention the mold.”

If you pass by Station 1 of the Bloomington Fire Department, you may not notice any damage, it’s not until you step inside that the smell greets you. 

“Anytime there’s a lot of water flooding in a building, even in our case when it was only for a day, the electrical issues, the mold issues,” Washel said. “The first thing we need to do is make sure everything is safe for our firefighters and the public.”

The basement of the station, which houses a gym, comms equipment and the backup diesel generator were all under at least 10 feet of water. The water rose so high that more than 9 inches of water were visible on the ground, office floor as well. 

“It’s a sight that won’t easily forget – when you see nine-foot, ten foot of standing water in your basement,” Washel said. “We’re picking up the pieces right now. Literally… without restoration companies, we got a lot of work ahead of us.”

More than the physical damage for Bloomington FD. The emotional leaving their home in a heap.

“This is our second home, I mean for firefighters, this is your second home that you come here every third day or sometimes more than that and you want this place to be nice,” Washel said. “This damage, it brings it home, makes it real I think, to our firefighters, to myself about how this flooding has affected people in the city and Monroe County as a whole.”

Until their home can be cleaned, rebuilt and repaired, first responders will be scattered throughout the area.

“We still have four stations that are operational in the city. We don’t anticipate any significant delays in response times. We certainly don’t anticipate any reduction of our service delivery for fire and EMS,” Washel said. “We’ll be happy to get back in this station and be downtown and there are some plans for that but it’s gonna take some time. I’m confident that, you know, unless we see a significant rainfall in a really small amount of time, like we did this past weekend, that we’ll be fine with future weather situations.”

With much still up in the air, it could be some time while the folks who respond to your homes remain home less – but one thing’s for certain.

“Our people, this is a family we have here at Bloomington Fire Department. We’re relying on each other and I think we’ll get through this and I know we’ll get through it,” Washel said. “But just like any family. I think just like any person that owns a personal home… we’re gonna be dealing with this for a while, just like a lot of folks here in Monroe County are.”

If your home or business was damaged in any way by the storms last week – you’re asked to visit www.IN211.org

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