If you're someone who was flooded out of your home a year ago, when the flood began June 7 and continued through the next few days, this is a time of year you might want to forget. If you're a farmer who lost crops, equipment, or livestock, you may want to do the same. But if you're frustrated with this season, last year might be a reminder that things can always be worse.
Where does the flood of '08 in central and southern Indiana, particularly, fit in history?
Anne Hazlett, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, says it was the worst flooding in southern Indiana in a hundred years. ISDA now estimates one million acres were flooded. That's out of some 13 million crop acres in Indiana.
Ron Lauster, with the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District, helped put the flood in perspective. When weathermen and statisticians say it's a one in one-hundred year rain, that means the likelihood of seeing that event in any one year is one in one-hundred. It doesn't mean they'll be a hundred years apart. The dice might come up snake eyes more frequently than one in one-hundred years during any given time frame.
The total amount of rainfall was actually determined to be a one in one-thousand year event in certain parts of south-central Indiana. The bottom line is that even though Mother Nature rolls the dice anew each season, it was a flood and rain event that many of us will never see again in our lifetimes. Many live their life and never see what was experienced last year.
At the same time, the event caused people to rethink how they do certain things. The Honey Creek Watershed Conservancy in Vigo County got busy working with their Congressman, Brad Ellsworth, D- Jasper, and it culminated in receiving $3.3 million in funding to finally finish the 20-year project that had long since ran out of funding. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made the announcement standing near Honey Creek last week. The head of the Conservancy says the frustration they felt watching flood waters last June was the impetus to make a renewed effort to find funding.
Many of the fields and homes damaged by the flood have been fixed. The famous 'waterfall in the cornfield' shot on Jim Facemire's farm near Edinburgh is once again a workable field. The landowner, a gravel company, filled the 2-acre gully with an unknown number of loads of dirt to make the field workable again.
Others aren't fixed. An empty lot in Franklin sits where the county annex, housing the Extension office, once stood. The building was finally razed earlier this spring, The Extension office is still housed in a former elementary school one year later, and county officials have not announced firm plans for the future.
Farm fields cut off by the Wabash River is southwest Indiana in some cases, remain cut off. They're no longer farmable.
Still, Hazlett says state programs helped 469 landowners in 35 counties, with more than 30,000 acres touched by the assistance. It came in various forms, including structure repair, debris removal and more. Some of that work still continues.
The sun came up on June 8 one year ago, and life moved on. But for many Hoosiers directly affected, the scars will remain forever, if only in their memories.