Levee Holds For Now, But Crest Pushes Along Raging White River
ELNORA, Ind. (AP) _ A soggy earthen levee riddled by rodents’ burrows and weakened by decades of neglect held the cresting White River off about 20 evacuated houses on Friday as residents strained to hold their tempers.
High waters from heavy rains this week have forced about 700 people to leave their homes along the Wabash and White rivers and their tributaries in central and southwestern Indiana.
Bloated rivers also swallowed roads and partially submerged homes in southern Illinois. From the Wabash on the Indiana border to Mississippi River areas, as many as 100 homes had some damage, Red Cross officials said.
In Elnora, residents who heeded warnings to leave a low-lying triangle of land bounded by railroad tracks and the feeble levee were frustrated that the embankment had been neglected.
″We left our cats and everything else in our house, and everything that was downstairs we had to put upstairs,″ said Dawn Jordan, who lives with her husband and three other families in the house.
Volunteers and National Guard troops tried to protect the area with sandbags on the seeping levee.
″When this happened in 1991, they told us then that they’d take care of all of this, and they haven’t,″ Ms. Jordan said.
Sheriff Alan Evans said he doesn’t know who’s responsible for the levee. Neither does Paul Goss, director of the Daviess County’s Emergency Management Agency.
″It’s old, it’s run-down, it hasn’t been maintained. Rodents, ground hogs have been allowed to burrow and that’s weakened it. Trees have been allowed to grow on it, and the root systems have weakened it. It’s a mess,″ Goss said.
Residents of this town of 700 were cheered to learn that the river crested at 26.9 feet about midnight Thursday. But the National Weather Service expects the crest to hold for a day or two, dropping fewer than three inches through Sunday. And the river is not expected to drop below flood stage until Nov. 28.