When most people think of significant flooding, the focus is often rivers, creeks and large lakes. But, no such thing can be found in Morgan Township, in northern Harrison County, particularly in the Palmyra area, where some of the worst flooding residents have ever experienced occurred at the end of last month with about 18 inches of rain falling in just a week and a half, according to town manager Cheri Banet.
‘It was unprecedented,’ she said.
On Thursday, Harrison County Emergency Management Agency Director Greg Reas declared the county an emergency disaster area, mainly because of the town of Palmyra.
‘We’ll try to help Palmyra with funding,’ Reas said Thursday morning while in Corydon tracking down county commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes for his signature on the disaster document.
By declaring an emergency for the county, it will now be eligible for possible federal funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Reas said the Palmyra Wastewater Treatment Facility alone experienced an estimated $200,000 in damages.
Last Tuesday, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management ordered a sewer ban on the town, forcing its more than 900 residents to abstain from sending any water down the drain, ranging from doing laundry to doing dishes to flushing toilets. The ban was lifted last Wednesday afternoon when IDEM officials determined it was safe, although the plant may not be fully operational for another week or so.
Banet said IDEM officials cautioned residents with wells to be sure to test their water before consumption, because the water could be contaminated.
Every restaurant or business that serves food within the town was asked by the health department to cease operations last Wednesday until the ban was lifted later that day. Banet said the businesses were told if they can’t use the drains, they can’t be open.
Palmyra officials arranged for 40 port-o-pots to be set up during the ban.
Because it affected everyone, Banet said damage at the treatment plant was probably the worst in town, although the Palmyra Apartments southwest of the four-way were also hit hard with multiple apartments damaged and the main entrance and all of the parking lot flooded.
Banet said three or four houses were also severely damaged from flood waters.
‘It could be a while before we find out the total damage,’ she said.
Morgan Elementary School is also on the town’s sewer system, but the school hired an outside company to take over its lift station and haul the flow elsewhere.
Palmyra Clerk-Treasurer Tiffany Cardwell said residents have been asking about mosquito prevention measures the town plans to take with all of the standing water in Palmyra. She said outside of the regular help the county gives, the town has six 40-pound bags of larvicide that should cover about 40 acres. She said the substance is granular and will spread on the surface of the water, killing the mosquito larvae.
‘It doesn’t harm plants or animals,’ Cardwell said.
She said they’ll start treating the water as soon as it recedes to a manageable level.
Banet said the town didn’t have any water rescues and no one was hurt. She said when seeing all the damage caused by Mother Nature elsewhere in the country, Palmyra was quite lucky.
‘I’ve been telling all the residents that their property value will go up because their house is on a lakefront,’ she said.