Ice jams in locations such as rivers oftentimes occur and causes sudden flooding that can also be unpredictable. In Huntington County ice jams become of particular concern after a series of freeze-thaw temperature cycles and precipitation that also causes the rivers to rise to flood levels.

The unpredictability of flooding that follows an ice jam is what makes ice jams concerning and dangerous. The water level rise may range from feet per minute to feet per hour, according to the National Weather Service. In some cases, even after water levels drop, the cold temperatures contribute to continued damages due to freeze ups of wet objects.

  • Typical problems seen with ice jams:
  • Loss of life
  • Hypothermia
  • Property damage
  • Operation and maintenance costs associated with flood control, ice management, etc.
  • Suspended hydropower operations
  • Lost power revenue due to shutdowns
  • River bed and river bank scour or erosion that could lead to bridge failure
  • Loss of fish/wildlife, and their associated habitat

Flood Recovery
For citizens trying to clean up after a flood, here are a few tips:
  • For debris and items pulled out of homes or outbuildings (carpet, furniture, etc.), please call the city street department and let them know.
  • Be sure to document any damage that you have with photos and right down when you noticed it, especially if there are pictures that show where the water lines or ice lines are located on any walls, fence, appliance, or high elevation point like cement. These pictures will come in handy when speaking to Emergency Management Agency (EMA) personnel, insurance companies, and FEMA personnel when trying to assist citizens that have been impacted by a flood.
  • Make a list of all damages.
  • If you encounter structural concerns in your home or outbuilding, document it and let someone with EMA (260-358-4870) and Department of Community Development (DCD) (260-358-4837) know .
  • Be sure to let your insurance agent know about any of the damage that has occurred. If you have flood insurance, this is especially important in the recovery process.
  • Steps in drying out your home:
    • Make sure the electricity is off.
    • After the water is no longer on top of the ground, begin pumping water out of the basement just not too fast. If pumped out too fast, the pressure around the outside of the foundation will greatly increase and could cause major structural damage. Ideally, take the water level down between 2-3 feet, mark it somehow, and then wait overnight. If the water level goes up, it is still too early to drain the basement. Repeat this step until the water is gone.
    • Shovel out as much mud as possible.
    • (Make sure electricity is still off.) Remove all light bulbs, cover plates, and unplug all lamps/appliances connected to outlets that got wet. If building code allows you to disconnect the wiring from the switches (check with DCD), go ahead and do this and replace these with new ones once cleanup is done. If not, leave the wires connected and pull them out of their boxes.
    • If you have water (even if not safe to drink, it can be used to clean), hose the home down inside and out. If you own an attachment that sprays soap, wash and rinse the walls and floors along with furniture and other major items that got muddy. Also, thoroughly hose out the electrical outlets, switch boxes, and light sockets that you opened up before turning the electricity back on.
    • Clean the heating and air conditioning ducts that took on flood water (otherwise the air will have the same contaminants in it as the dirt/flood water and will be hazardous to your health). Remove the vents or registers , the ducts in the basement or crawl space (if possible) to give you access to all areas. Then thoroughly hose the ducts. Once the duct work has been hosed out, wash it with a disinfectant or sanitizer (i.e. quaternary, phenolic, or pine oil-based cleaners). If the ducts are in a slab or inaccessible, have them cleaned by a professional.
    • Don't let the water sit on the floor for long, especially if your floor has particle board or other wood product that tends to fall apart when wet and use a mop, "wet vac", or squeegee.

  • Health considerations:
    • After being exposed to flood water it is important to make sure you do NOT touch your face, eat, smoke or anything else until you have washed your hands with sanitary water. In addition, it is important to get a tetanus shot. DO NOT allow children to play in flood water or with toys that have been exposed to it.
    • Keep any open wounds covered by a waterproof bandage and be sure to cleanse the wound with antiseptic solution after possible exposure to flood water.
    • Do not use flood water to wash your hands, wash dishes, brush your teeth or prepare food/baby formula. Use only water that is bottled or has been boiled or treated. (ONLY boiling water will kill parasitic organisms.) Boiling water for at least one minute is the preferred water treatment method.

  • Post-flood pet considerations:
    • Your pet's behavior may change after a high water event, particularly if this event impacted your home.
    • Leash your pet for the first few days after the high water event when they go outside. Always maintain close contact and note that familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and this may cause some confusion for your pet.
    • Reintroduce food (that has not been exposed to flood water) in smalls servings and gradually work up to regular portions, especially if the pet has been without food for a long period of time.
    • If you suspect that your pet may be poisoned, exposed to a harmful chemical or has consumed contaminated food, call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
    • If you are unable to return home because you deem it unsafe, call the EMA office (260-358-4870). EMA staff will help to put you in touch with organizations that can accommodate sheltering needs.
    • If you are ineligible for assistance from your insurance company after a flood, call the EMA office (260-358-4870) so that staff members can put you in-touch with organizations that are able to assist you in the recovery process.