Picking Up the Pieces in Portland After Flood

By Maureen Mespell
By Peter Ambrose
By Megan Trent

March 1, 2011 Updated Mar 1, 2011 at 8:08 PM EDT

UPDATE: PORTLAND, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - As flood waters recede, Portland residents pick up the pieces left behind.

Driving into Portland, outside of the water damage trucks parked outside of dozens of downtown businesses, it might be hard to imagine that just 24 hours earlier the town was under water.

City Hall had more than 10 inches of standing water. The bicycle shop next door had 17. The insurance company down the road had more than a foot of water. Most people salvaged what they could, but most people are also realizing that the water came too fast to save everything.

Crews were out on the roads strategically placing sand bags around town at 2:30 a.m. Monday morning. But even sand bags weren't enough for the flood to come. By 8:00 p.m. the water levels were at their highest, leaving cars stranded in the streets and travel impossible.

Portland Mayor Bruce W. Hosier was hard at work drying out City Hall Tuesday morning. It's a building city government shares with the police department. One officer I spoke with said he stood in water throughout the evening hours answering phones and trying to salvage computers and files.

Mayor Hosier says he's already spoken with Homeland Security and state representatives about assistance in Jay County. "They are putting together an assessment team as we speak to visit Portland and Jay County and to do their assessment and hopefully get that process accelerated. The important thing is to continue to assess the damage and prioritize the clean-up, and I'm very proud of our city workers and the community."

Theresa Inman was also hard at work Tuesday afternoon. Her husband owns Inman Insurance downtown. She says her husband never expected the water to make it into businesses. "He was assuring someone else in town that - no, even though it's six feet from your door, you'll be fine - and he said about ten minutes later he looked down and he had a pool of water around his feet and it was coming in the side of the walls. And so once it started to come in, there was no stopping."

All the carpeting had already been torn up and will need to be replaced. "We're just trying to salvage what we can, but computers are gone. Phone lines aren't working. Everything's pretty much gutted. So, we'll start over."

Fortunately, there were no serious injuries during the flood. The fire department recently purchased an emergency boat, and they ended up putting it to good use. They were called out on several water rescues, and no one was badly hurt.


PORTLAND, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- Portland police chief Robert Sours is counting on drier conditions today to help floodwaters recede.

Much of the city was inundated after strong storms swept through Indiana late Sunday night and early Monday morning. The downtown area was hit especially hard. Chief Sours says this is the first time in his 37 years as chief that he's seen a foot of water in City Hall.

Chief Sours also says the flooding began to recede around 8PM last night. He hopes the waters will continue to drain so several city and county streets that had been washed out can re-open today. U.S. 27 was one of the big highways affected by the floods. There's hope it will open back up at noon today.

Police also caution anyone driving in the area to not drive through high water areas.

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