Indiana flooding: Storms pelt Midwest, causing widespread flash flooding

Indiana flooding was caused by heavy thunderstorms that dumped up to five inches of rain in central Indiana.

By , Associated Press

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    Indiana flooding has caused Spencer Thompson to drive his riding mower through flood waters in a trailer park on the south side of Indianapolis, on Tuesday after heavy rains overnight caused flooding in several areas.

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Crews evacuated two mobile home parks near a small dam and firefighters rescued several people from floodwaters after thunderstorms dumped up to 5 inches of rain in central Indiana, causing widespread flash flooding.

The storms were part of a wave moving across the Midwest as a low pressure system slowly moved east. The storms that went through Indiana weakened as they reached Ohio and Pennsylvania Tuesday, while another belt moved into Illinois and Indiana, according to the National Weather Service.

In southern Wisconsin, authorities conducted door-to-door searches after a warning siren failed before an apparent tornado touched down in Eagle, damaging or destroying 50 homes and injuring one person. All residents were accounted for, Eagle Fire Chief Justin Heim said at a news conference Tuesday morning. He urged people to stay out of the village because downed power lines had not been de-energized.

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In central Indiana, water from a retention lake overflowed an earthen dam west of Indianapolis after two days of strong thunderstorms, said Jerry Bessler, a spokesman for the Washington Township/Avon Fire Department. The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings Tuesday for residents in the area and downstream.

Indianapolis firefighters were called for three rescues on the city's west side in an area where Little White Lick Creek and White Lick Creek converge, Fire Capt. Courtney Rice said.

They rescued a disabled man from a trailer parked at a fishing lake after he became trapped by rising water, Rice said. Firefighters used a boat to get him out and then made a second trip to get his wheelchair.

Firefighters also used a boat to rescue three others who became trapped after driving into high water in the area.

Another man got out of his car as flood waters started to sweep it away. He swam to safety as the car continued moving downstream, Rice said.

Witnesses in central Illinois reported tornadoes near the Indiana border, while flash floods covered roads in Pana, Fulton and Vermilion County. Tornadoes were spotted near Hoopeston and Rossville but no damage reported, the weather service said.

Several other Indiana communities reported damage and street flooding from the storms, which carried winds of up to 60 mph. Trees were reported down in Lafayette and Crawfordsville. Numerous state highways and county roads were closed because of high water Tuesday morning in the Lafayette area.

Lightning may have sparked a fire that destroyed a shopping plaza in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel early Tuesday, firefighters said. The fire gutted about 10 stores in the plaza, including a Blockbuster video store, a restaurant, a wine store and a tanning shop.

National Weather Service hydrologist Al Shipe said some areas received 3 or more inches of rain overnight, with the heaviest rainfall at 5 inches in Kokomo and 4 1/2 in Brownsburg. The weather service issued flash flood warnings for much of the central third of the state, and officials said flooding could become worse with more storms expected Tuesday afternoon.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works was offering sandbags to residents.

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Associated Press Writers Tom Davies and Deanna Martin in Indianapolis and Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee contributed to this story.

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