Gordon remnants bring heavy rains, tornadoes

Nic Antaya/The Herald
Ida Kelley's belongings float in her flooded basement of her Huntingburg home on Saturday. Kelley said this was the second time the basement has flooded in her thirteen years living in her home. "I just think this is totally uncalled for," Kelley said. "I don't want to lose everything I've worked for."


A water rescue this morning just northeast of Huntingburg capped a weekend of flooding and severe weather resulting from the passage of Tropical Storm Gordon’s remnants.

The Huntingburg Volunteer Fire Department, Dubois County Sheriff’s Department and Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services responded at 7:04 a.m. today to assist a motorist who had driven into high water near railroad tracks on County Road 400S east of U.S. 231.

Fire Chief Scott Patberg said the man was standing on the roof of his submerged car about 100 feet from dry land when personnel arrived. Two firefighters donned water rescue vests secured by ropes and walked a third rescue vest out to the stranded man, who was then led to safety.

The motorist was checked out by EMS and declined to be transported for treatment.

Heavy rainfall moved into Dubois County late Friday afternoon, bringing flash flooding with it.

The National Weather Service in Louisville has confirmed two EF-0 tornadoes in the area Saturday.

One was across the Ohio River from Spencer County, southeast of Lewisport, Kentucky. It was a tree-top-level twister that did all of its damage 20 to 30 feet above the ground, according to the weather service. It snapped and uprooted trees and damaged the metal roof of a barn.

The other tornado touched down on Main Street in Tell City at 2:38 p.m. CDT and tracked 1.75 miles as it moved east-northeast. The twister with 70 to 80 mph winds damaged roofs, snapped large tree limbs and toppled a large, rotting tree that crushed the roof of a garage, according to the weather service.

Photo courtesy Michelle Hemmer
A weekend total from a Huntingburg gauge was 9.42 inches and some residents report even higher numbers. The excessive rains caused flooding near Casey's General Store in Huntingburg.

A small shed was lifted out of its yard and a large metal carport was lifted and blown 50 feet before the tornado moved east of 14th Street into a more rural area where it dissipated at 2:44 p.m. CDT near Quaker Road.

After recording 1.23 inches of rain during the entire month of August, Jasper’s gauge caught 5.35 inches of precipitation during the weekend.

Ferdinand’s official gauge caught 9.66 inches of rain: 3.01 inches Friday; 6.6 inches Saturday and .05 of an inch Sunday.

Gary Fritz, the deputy director of the Dubois County Emergency Management Agency, said the heaviest rains fell in the Huntingburg and Ferdinand areas. A weekend total from a Huntingburg gauge was 9.42 inches, Fritz said, while a Celestine rain gauge recorded 6.76 inches.

Ida Kelley knew she was in trouble when she looked out her window on Saturday and saw the sewers near her Huntingburg home filling with water. It wouldn’t be long before about 5 inches of rain would settle into her basement. Because those sewers were at capacity and water continued to spew into them, Kelley, 70, said her sump pump was worthless, and she simply had to wait for the water to go down outside and in the sewers before she could do anything.

“I mean, you couldn’t see nothing that was here in front of my house,” Kelley said of the deluge in a phone interview this morning. “It was just nothing but a big river, and it had a strong current to it, too.”

The muddy water that invaded her home on Washington Street was deep enough to engulf Kelley’s ankles and more. She didn’t lose anything to the flood and the water has been removed from her basement, but that bottom level of the home is still wet and mud-covered.

It wasn’t the first time her home has been drenched by surging rainwater. In spring 2017, heavy rains caused even worse flooding that forced Kelley to purchase a replacement part for a recently purchased furnace. This morning, Kelley called on the City of Huntingburg to increase the size of the nearby sewers to prevent such severe flooding.

“I think they need to make our sewers bigger down here and clean out those ditches,” she said. “And they’re building that new park up there by the Old National Bank. Well, all that water is going to roll down this way.”

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