$186K in disaster loans OK’d for homes so far to help cover damage from June 18-19 Monroe County floods

Four Monroe County homeowners or renters have received loans so far from the federal Small Business Administration for damages from the June 18-19 floods, according to Julie Garrett with the SBA.

Looking south on Grant Street from Kirkwood in the early morning hours of June 19, 2021.

Garrett briefed the Monroe County board of commissioners on the topic of loans at their regular Wednesday morning meeting.

The total dollar figure of the loans approved so far is $186,900. The dollar amount, along with the number of loans approved, will probably increase.

Garrett told county commissioners that the SBA had spoken with 42 flooding victims at the information sessions that are being held at the county’s convention center on College Avenue.

Six business loans and 33 other home loans are in the works, Garrett said.

The sessions started last week. They will continue through Friday this week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Continue reading “$186K in disaster loans OK’d for homes so far to help cover damage from June 18-19 Monroe County floods”

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…””

Damaged in flood: Downtown Bloomington fire station closed for unknown time

Bloomington’s fire station at Fourth and Lincoln streets in downtown will be closed, “for an unknown period of time,” according to a press release issued by the city early Wednesday afternoon.

The closing is due to damage sustained to the station during last weekend’s flooding, when 5 to 7 inches of rain fell on Bloomington from late Friday night into Saturday morning.

According to the press release, the equipment and personnel for the downtown station will be redeployed at one of among the city’s other four stations.

According to the press release, the time for firefighters to respond to calls will not be compromised due to the closure: “Based on a careful reallocation of equipment and personnel, no significant delays in emergency response times are anticipated.”

[Updated at 3:58 p.m. on June 23, 2021: In a press release issued late Wednesday afternoon, the city of Bloomington announced that the police station, on 3rd Street, a block south of the closed fire station, is able to continue normal  operations despite flood damage. According to the release, the losses included “significant damage to electronic and computer equipment.”

The fact that there was not more damage is credited to fast-acting city employees.  Police chief Mike Diekhoff is quoted in the release saying, “[It] could have been much worse without the quick responses of BPD officers, non-sworn staff and facilities managers who began the recovery process well before the last drop of rain had fallen.”] Continue reading “Damaged in flood: Downtown Bloomington fire station closed for unknown time”

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”

Monroe County commissioner: “Indeed, the county is celebrating Juneteenth. The county will be closed on Friday.”

Responding to a question during public commentary at the start of Wednesday morning’s board of commissioners meeting, president Julie Thomas cleared up any uncertainty about the “Holiday Closing” that’s listed on the county’s official calendar for this Friday.

Image links to full calendar page.

Thomas said, “Indeed, the county is celebrating Juneteenth. The county will be closed on Friday.” All county buildings will be closed that day.

Friday is June 18, the day before Juneteenth.

Juneteenth commemorates the arrival of Union Army general Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which came two and half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863.

The decision by county commissioners to make June 18 a holiday this year was made last year, on Nov. 4, with the approval of the annual resolution that sets the employee holiday calendar.

The resolution approved last year does not have descriptions listed with any of the dates.

Thomas’s statement early in Wednesday’s meeting removed any doubt about the reason June 18, 2021 was chosen as a holiday date. Continue reading “Monroe County commissioner: “Indeed, the county is celebrating Juneteenth. The county will be closed on Friday.””