2008 versus 2021: Last weekend’s Kirkwood flooding not due to clogged storm drains, CBU reports

When waist-deep water filled the intersection of Dunn Street and Kirkwood Avenue last weekend, it reminded some Bloomington residents of similar flooding in June of 2008.

In 2008, the city of Bloomington utilities (CBU) blamed the high water in part on clogged storm drains. A June 10, 2008 news account from the Herald-Times about the Kirkwood floods stated, “Street inlets clogged with debris were a culprit, blocking water from draining into the system where it belongs, rather than sloshing on the streets.”

That was not the case for last weekend’s flooding, according to CBU’s director of transmission and distribution Brandon Prince.

At the meeting of the utilities service board on Wednesday, chair Jean Capler asked specifically about clogged storm drains as a contributing factor to last weekend’s flooding.

Prince told the board CBU had around 10 people out in the field on Saturday and Sunday. “Primarily, we really didn’t see a clog issue,” he said.

When the water started to recede, blocked drains became “a bit of an issue,” Prince said. That meant CBU crews did clean a lot of inlets in those two days, Prince said, adding that most of the inlet clearing came on Sunday.

Responding to Capler’s query, Prince said, “To answer your question,…we really can’t see how clogged inlets really contributed to the problem.” Continue reading “2008 versus 2021: Last weekend’s Kirkwood flooding not due to clogged storm drains, CBU reports”

Climate scientist on last weekend’s Bloomington rain: “It’s not like this was an absolute fluke…”

As of Wednesday, the National Weather Service is predicting 4 to 6 inches more rain for Bloomington, from Friday afternoon through Tuesday evening.

That follows 5 to 7 inches of rain that fell over a shorter period last weekend, which flooded a downtown Bloomington street, overtopped a county bridge with debris, and caused the floodwaters to sweep up one car, leaving its driver dead.

Based on the daily rainfall data in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Regional Climate Center database, last weekend’s two-day total rainfall of 6.1 inches, recorded by the Indiana University campus rain gauge, ranks it the third-worst storm, since daily rainfall totals have been kept, which starts in 1895.

The 6.1 inches measured on IU’s campus was the highest two-day total in the last century.

Does last weekend’s single event prove the case for climate change?

When The B Square spoke on Wednesday with Gabriel Filippelli, professor of earth sciences at IUPUI, he said, “Each given intense rainfall event does not mean that climate change has descended on us.”

Filippelli continued, “However, when you look at the regional records and you see the number of days Indiana has had extreme rainfall events, it has gone up substantially from about the end of the 1980s on.”

The amount of extreme rainfall in central Indiana has gone up by about 15 percent since 1990, Filippelli said. He continued, “The projections are, it’s going to go up another 15 percent by 2050.”

That means extreme rainfall will continue to be likely in this area, he said. He added, “Whether climate change will make them worse or not, it’s hard to say, ”

In the context of a 15-percent increase in extreme rainfall, Filippelli assessed last weekend’s storm like this: “You know, 15 percent isn’t a lot, but it’s not like this was an absolute fluke that we’ll never see again.” Continue reading “Climate scientist on last weekend’s Bloomington rain: “It’s not like this was an absolute fluke…””

Post-flood recovery: Monday signing of local disaster declaration part of Monroe County’s two-pronged approach to aid, officials caution against high hopes

On Monday, Monroe County board of commissioners president Julie Thomas signed a declaration of local disaster, because of weekend flooding that hit downtown Bloomington and other areas of the county.

The disaster declaration will appear for ratification on the three-member board’s regular meeting agenda on Wednesday.

A declaration of local disaster, under Indiana Code 10-14-3-29, will “activate the response and recovery aspects of all applicable local or interjurisdictional disaster emergency plans.”

Such a declaration could also make homeowners and business owners alike eligible for reimbursement of uninsured flood damages by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

But the county’s emergency manager, Allison Moore, told a gathering of about 25 business and nonprofit leaders on Monday morning that nothing is guaranteed to be reimbursed.

Still, a disaster declaration would “help our cause,” Moore said, in connection with another approach the county is taking. The second approach is to ask the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) for low-interest loan assistance. Continue reading “Post-flood recovery: Monday signing of local disaster declaration part of Monroe County’s two-pronged approach to aid, officials caution against high hopes”

Bloomington police: Man dies in flood, was driver of car swept up in rushing waters

In a press release issued early Sunday afternoon, Bloomington’s police department announced a search team discovered the body of a man who was reported missing, after the car he was driving was swept up in floodwaters on Friday night.

Red and blue areas are flood areas defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The purple circles indicate about where the car drove into the water, and where the body was discovered. (Map by The B Square)

The man was identified in the press release as Colten Booe (31) of Bloomington.

According to the release, Booe was last seen in a vehicle that was driven into “rapidly-moving floodwaters” near the intersection of S. College Avenue and W. Dodds Street.

The release says that according to Booe’s 29-year-old passenger, Booe was at the wheel of the 2016 Nissan Versa south on College Avenue and attempted to drive through the floodwaters near the intersection of S. College Avenue and W. Dodds Street.

Continue reading “Bloomington police: Man dies in flood, was driver of car swept up in rushing waters”

Post-flood work starts for Bloomington government, businesses

Looking north up the alley next to Village Deli. These hoses are connected to pumps that are emptying the Village Deli’s basement of six feet of water.

Between 5 and 7 inches of rain fell on Bloomington on Friday night through early Saturday.

That meant thigh- to waist-deep water pooled on Kirkwood Avenue before flowing southward.

In the mid-morning hours on Saturday, business owners along Kirkwood were starting the work of clean up and damage assessment.

The flood outside the Village Deli on Kirkwood last night meant the basement was filled with six feet of water on Saturday morning. Owner Bob Costello told The B Square he hopes to be back open in a week. But it will mean replacing the point-of-sale computer server, which was swamped by the floodwaters.

According to a press release from the city of Bloomington, the flood damage inside the city was centered on the blocks of Kirkwood Avenue just west of the Indiana University Sample Gates.

The release says, “Flooding inside the city appears to be concentrated in the downtown area, specifically Kirkwood Avenue between Indiana Avenue and Washington Street.”

The city’s press release also states that emergency responders for the city performed 17 water rescues on Friday night through Saturday morning. Continue reading “Post-flood work starts for Bloomington government, businesses”

Photos: Kirkwood Flood of 2021

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Around 3 inches of rain fell on the Bloomington area starting around 10:45 through half past midnight on June 19.

The thunderstorm knocked out power for around 6,000 Duke Energy customers, including a swatch of 1,500 customers east of the downtown square. The initial estimated time for restoration of power indicated on Duke’s outage map was 5 a.m.

The heavy rains that came with the wind and lightning caused street flooding in several areas, including East Kirkwood from Dunn to Grant. A car could be seen stuck on Grant Street in the block south of Kirkwood, swamped by the water flowing south.

The water was thigh deep in some places.

In the photos that accompany this story, yellow bollards are visible blocking off Kirkwood to vehicle traffic. [Monroe County floodplains from FEMA data] Continue reading “Photos: Kirkwood Flood of 2021”