Normally it would be an honor to have the governor of Indiana visit your farm, no matter what your politics or who the governor was. Jim Lankford, Martinsville, may have been happy to have Governor Mitch Daniels at his farm Thursday morning, but he certainly wished it was under better circumstances.
To say he didn’t have time to spruce the place up for the special visit is the understatement of the year. In fact, that’s why Daniels made the visit. He wanted to see flood damage firsthand. And Lankford, a well-respected beef producer, had plenty of damage to show.
“Fences were wiped out, and we had flooding in all four of our pastures,” the cattleman said. “In fact, we lost several calves and a couple of cows, and we have no idea where they went.”
Such is life in the southern half of Indiana today, especially in southwest Indiana. Pictures are rolling in. Someone sent a shot of a tractor and planter, all but submerged in water. Another shot back, ‘”Is that for real?” Unfortunately, it was.
The damage is so horrific that those with only soil erosion and a few potholes created by the flooding to worry about consider themselves fortunate. In fact, anyone without water in their home feels pretty lucky.
Other pictures show roads submerged well after the rain stopped. The southwestern counties took the biggest hit in the days following the record rains. Water from central Indiana rushed its way southward, sitting or pushing record flood heights along various rivers in southwestern Indiana. One Indiana farmer, beset with his own problems, which he considered minor, said his heart goes out for the farmers in the Lawerenceville, Ill., area, not far across the state line from Vincennes. Huge portions of that county are said to be underwater. The Wabash River runs between Illinois and Indiana at that juncture.
What’s becoming clear is that it may take weeks if not months, surely more than days, to fully assess and comprehend all the consequences of this rain event, now being touted as a 1 in 1000 year event, at least in some places, by state ag climatologists.
“We don’t even know how much washing and erosion we’ve had down along the river yet,” Lankford said, moments before the governor arrived to see him. “We’re waiting for the water to go down before we can really see what we’ve got left along the bottoms.”
Meanwhile, Andy Miller, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, says the state is doing all it can to help. If farmers with livestock have questions, they should contact the Indiana Board of animal Health at 317-227-0300, or www.in.gov.boah. Farmers worried about manure, pesticide or other farm chemical spills due to flooding should contact the Indiana Department of Environmental Management at 317-233-7745 or 1-888-233-7745.