Extreme weather on Aug. 21-22 brought up to 7+ inches of rain to communities throughout Northwest Indiana with some periods seeing rain at rates more than 3.5 inches per hour. Valparaiso saw periods of flooding, power outages, and road closures. “Based on the rain totals, we’re seeing that this was a 100-year storm event, which means that a storm like this has a one percent chance of occurring or being exceeded in a year,” said Bill Oeding, Valparaiso’s city administrator. “While recent stormwater projects have done much to improve drainage, no system can prepare for rains this concentrated,” he said.
Though water dispersed quickly once the rains stopped, several areas have led to road closures that will require more extensive attention. The closures include:
1. Harrison Blvd, between St. Paul Catholic Church and Manchester Meadows in the Beauty Creek area
The extensive rain has severely damaged the bridge, which will require significant repair or possibly replacement. The city must first wait for waters to recede, then evaluate the damage and develop a plan for long-term repair. The bridge will remain closed for safety reasons and a detour will be posted, using Froberg Road, State Road 130 and Yellowstone Road as alternate routes.
2. Vale Park Road, about 1,000 feet west of Froberg Road
High waters washed out an embankment and underground utilities. The city is working with local utilities and developing a plan to shore up the area. A detour will be posted, using Froberg Road south to County Road 375 South
“Along with roadway flooding, the city received reports of flooded yards, roadways and basements,” said Steve Poulos, Utilities Director. “We haven’t seen the creek this high since the severe rains in 2008. Currently city sewers, storm water-receiving ditches, retentions ponds and Salt Creek have all been maximized due to the heavy rain. Public Works, Police, Fire and Utilities are working diligently to respond to needs throughout the community.”
The City of Valparaiso urges citizens to follow safety precautions:
Stay off all flooded roadways, as water may be much deeper than it appears. Respect road closure barriers.
Take safety precautions before cleaning out flooded basements. Residents experiencing flooding and concerns about clean-up and mold should consult the US Environmental Protection Agency Website (www.epa.gov ), which provides these tips for flood clean-up and mold and mildew elimination:
If at all possible, open all windows to the flooded area in order to let any built-up gases vent out of the house.
Use flashlights in flooded areas and NEVER use matches, lighters or lanterns.
Wear rubber gloves, protective clothing, waders, or boots.
Please reduce water consumption as this will help relieve the taxed sanitary and combined sewer system.
The city recommends that residents report flooding incidents to their homeowner’s insurance carrier as soon as possible, and that they take pictures of all damages.
In 2009, the city of Valparaiso created a list of 17 stormwater projects, designed to improve water drainage problem areas. The projects were chosen as the best use of city resources to make the maximum impact, according to customer surveys, engineering studies, and crew reports. To date, the city is nearly halfway finished with this ambitious project list and has committed $9.4 million to stormwater construction projects from 2011 to August 2014. The biggest project – Chautauqua Park – is scheduled to finish this year, according to Tim Burkman, city engineer. “Though a rain like we saw this week would tax any city’s system, we are definitely seeing fewer problems than we would have if we had not embarked on this aggressive program years back,” said Mayor Jon Costas.
Residents with specific issues are encouraged to call City Utilities Customer Service Center at 462-6174.