KOKOMO — Gov. Mike Pence surveyed flood damage and met with residents Saturday in three central Indiana communities swamped by floodwaters that have killed one man and left a second man missing after his truck was swept away along a flooded road.
Pence flew in a State Police helicopter Saturday afternoon — first to Kokomo, where he was met by U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind. The pair joined the city's mayor in surveying flooded areas along Wildcat Creek and visited Memorial Gymnasium in downtown Kokomo, where the American Red Cross is operating a temporary shelter for displaced residents.
Pence and Brooks later flew to Tipton and then Elwood, joining the mayors of both cities in assessing flood damage two days after strong storms dumped between 3 and 5 inches of rain on parts of the state, unleashing flooding that's driven more than 100 residents from their homes.
Pence said in a statement that state officials have begun assessing the scope of the damage, the first step in the process of determining whether affected communities are eligible for disaster assistance.
"Our hearts go out to all Hoosiers who have been affected by the recent flooding," Pence said in the statement.
"Today we saw extensive flooding in downtown Kokomo, where the waters have just started to recede. We viewed the damage in Tipton and Elwood. Volunteers were out in full force, helping neighbors and strangers, and showing once again that Hoosiers are compassionate, caring people."
Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault said state Department of Homeland Security Executive Director John Hill also traveled with the governor during his visits to the three cities. She said that agency will help determine whether the damage is sufficient to request federal disaster assistance.
Communities are typically eligible for disaster relief loans if they have at least 25 homes with 40 percent or more of uninsured losses, she said.
Thursday's strong storms along a cold front dumped heavy rains on much of the state, with the heaviest amounts — between 3 and 5 inches — falling on central, north-central and northeastern Indiana.
The heaviest rainfall total was in the Boone County town of New Ross, where 5.39 inches of rain fell, followed by 4.6 inches in Andrews, a town southwest of Fort Wayne.
Both Indianapolis and Fort Wayne set new rainfall records for the date Thursday, with about 2.3 inches in both cities.
The deluge prompted officials in at least three counties to declare local emergencies as floodwaters forced more than 100 people from their homes near rain-swollen rivers and streams.
A central Indiana man, 64-year-old Robert Morgan of Arcadia, died Friday night when his car was swept off a Hamilton County road near rain-swollen Cicero Creek about 35 miles north of Indianapolis.
His truck came to rest about 100 yards downstream, where it was submerged. A water rescue team pulled Morgan from his car and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Those teams continued searching Saturday for a second Arcadia man who called 911 about 1 a.m. Saturday and reported his truck was sinking in water near Cicero Creek about a quarter-mile from where Morgan's car had entered the floodwaters.
Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Bryan Orem said officers sent to the scene heard a person yell once and later found the Arcadia man's unoccupied truck about 200 feet off a roadway. That man's name has not been released by police.
Orem said that in both cases, the motorists apparently drove areas where barricades and signs had been erected warning of high waters.
"There were barricades and signs across the road, but either somebody moved them or they were driven around," he said.
Orem stressed that motorists should not drive through high water.