INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Despite record flooding in the Indianapolis area three days ahead of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, travel to the convention should not be affected as floodwaters recede, convention manager R. Clark Logan Jr. said.
Interstate 65 was closed in both directions about 25 miles south of Indianapolis for several hours June 7 after floodwaters covered the roads.
Eastbound lanes of I-70 reopened late Saturday near the Illinois border, but the westbound lanes remained closed Sunday morning because part of the interstate had collapsed, WRTV in Indianapolis reported. Motorists were detoured in the area.
Allen Haynes, disaster relief coordinator for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, told Baptist Press Sunday morning that six teams were on standby for mud-out while assessment teams already were on call.
The state convention’s disaster relief teams had been working earlier in the week in response to tornadoes throughout the region, and they were waiting on floodwaters to recede in order to determine their next course of action.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security said Sunday that two people had died as a result of the flooding, and one of the deaths was confirmed in Columbus.
Officials in 21 counties had declared disasters, and the Red Cross and Salvation Army set up shelters for hundreds of residents who were forced from their homes, WRTV said. More than 30,000 electric customers originally were without power, but electricity was being restored gradually.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels issued a new disaster declaration for 10 counties, the television station said, in addition to the 41 counties that had been declared disaster areas earlier in the week from storm damage.
WRTV said the U.S. Coast Guard had dispatched two rescue helicopters to Indianapolis, where they could be sent to flooded areas.
Al Shipe, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said flooding on the White River in some areas south of Indianapolis could reach levels comparable to the historic flood of 1913, WRTV reported. The area received four to 11 inches of rain Friday night and Saturday, and flash flood warnings were issued for 15 counties.
Ninety percent of the small town of Paragon was underwater, and dams had failed in the Princes Lakes area, threatening the town of Ninevah about 30 miles south of Indianapolis.
The 151st annual session of the Southern Baptist Convention is scheduled to convene June 10-11 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, preceded by a Pastors’ Conference beginning Sunday evening.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.