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Residents of southern Indiana town still assessing damage after destructive flood

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Sunday, December 29, 2013 - 10:43 am

ELLETTSVILLE — Residents of a southern Indiana town driven from their homes by the state's recent flooding are still dreaming of going home after spending Christmas with relatives or in hotel rooms.

Dave and Mandy Hancock and their two children fled their Ellettsville home last weekend after a massive storm system dumped several inches of rain on the area, sending floodwaters churning through their neighborhood.

The couple and their children, ages 12 and 15, have been living since then in the art studio Mandy owns and operates in the Monroe County town about 10 miles northwest of Bloomington.

While the floodwaters didn't enter their home, she said the family's garage was destroyed along with a car the couple had paid off two years ago. Art supplies that belonged to her husband, who works a third-shift janitor at Indiana University, were also ruined.

"Dave is an artist, and he lost all his paint supplies and projects from art school," she told The Herald-Times. "Other than that, we lost photos, clothes and things like that."

Mandy Hancock said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has told the couple it will replace the flooring, trim, and ductwork beneath their 1923 bungalow house.

But she said she and her husband now face "tough choices" because FEMA has said it won't be able to help them replace their home's sagging floor joists.

The recent flooding was the fourth time in the past five years Ellettsville has been hit by what's considered a 100-year flood.

Josh Held's family of five plus their two dogs escaped from the family's Ellettsville apartment just before it was flooded with 8 inches of floodwaters. The Held family was one of about 10 Ellettsville families displaced by the recent flooding.

The Helds received a Christmas gift on Thursday from the Salvation Army — three extra free nights at the local hotel where they are staying. They had previously been given three free nights at the inn by the local American Red Cross.

Now the family is waiting for their apartment to be repaired enough for them to return. Held said he won't move his family back in unless he's sure it's not contaminated by mold or raw sewage.

His family spent Christmas morning in their two hotel rooms. Their dogs each got a gift basket, courtesy of PetSmart, filled with a squeaky ball, tennis ball and various treats.

Later in the day, they spent Christmas at his sister-in-law's house and opened extra Christmas gifts from the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots before returning to their hotel rooms.

"We are extremely thankful for all the prayers and help we've received from people, but this is not home," Held said. "All of us really want to be home."