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Hamilton County offering free sandbags to residents

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Two days of heavy rain prompted Hamilton County Emergency Management officials to help homeowners keep the water out.

When there is any kind of flood statement for Hamilton County and the EMA has sandbags on hand, they will open that up to the public – and that was the case Thursday.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., residents could pick up as many free sandbags as they needed. EMA had about 2,000 on-hand and plans to bring in more sand and volunteers to fill additional bags if needed.

“We know or a resident will know a certain part of maybe their neighborhood or their home when they get X amount of rain they’re going to have some sort of flooding,” said EMA Interim Director Carl Erickson.

They did the same thing last year and gave out about the same number: 2,000.

“We’d rather have our residents prepared and at least give them this opportunity if they want to come get the sandbags we’ll make them available to them,” Erickson said.

And several homeowners took advantage of the offer.

“The house floods all up inside the house, all down where the sump pump and all that is,” said Noblesville resident Linda Velis, who picked up 12 bags. “Goes completely to the top. The whole garage floods. Everything floods.”

Andy Mills also stopped by and filled the back of his pickup with 20 sandbags.

“I’ve got a small barn and the barn’s got a lot of water going through it so grab what we can to try to keep the horses dry,” Mills said.

In a two hour period Thursday morning – as heavy rain was still coming down – about eight residents stopped in to pick up bags.

The EMA says they have no plans to hand out sandbags Friday but are keeping an eye to the sky. If heavy rains and the potential for flash flooding become an issue later Thursday evening, they may opt for another day of handing out the free sandbags.

The heavy rain also meant water flooding streets again as storm drains tried to keep up with the heavy downpour. But the Department of Public Works said it’s not always the responsibility of the city to keep them clear of leaves, sticks and other debris.

That back up all too often means residential streets resemble miniature lakes in areas as the water tries to find even a small opening to drain off.

While DPW does maintain storm drains downtown and on major thoroughfares, when it comes to neighborhoods it’s up to property owners to clear debris away and keep the drain inlet clear.

“I know that sometimes that’s an area of confusion,” said Scott Manning, Communications Director for DPW. “So we try to always remind folks to be mindful especially when we’ve had rainy conditions to keep an eye that storm drain inlet and make sure it’s clear.”

Manning also said residents should be mindful of wash off from freshly laid mulch that hasn’t settled in.

“So it’s a good idea if you haven’t taken a look at one on your property lately double-check and make sure it’s clear,” Manning said.

If debris has been cleared from the inlet and it water continues to pool, Manning the piping may be clogged. He recommended calling Citizens Energy Group to come take a look at the drain and use a vacuum excavator if needed.