The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Cops, courts and fires

May 1, 2013

Flood of kindness in Elwood

Second Harvest donates enough food for over 100 families

ELWOOD, Ind. — Elwood was flooded again Wednesday — by kindness, not water.

Volunteers filled the City Building police bay, 1505 South B St., to pass out free fruits, vegetables, snacks and more to 107 families affected by last month’s flooding. The food was donated by Second Harvest Food Bank.

“They called and asked what we needed,” said Mayor Ron Arnold. “Within two hours, they were here with a semi-truck full of food. I was blown away.”

The city spent the next few hours setting up a distribution, gathering volunteers and spreading the word.

Elwood Community Schools used its automated call system to alert students’ parents. Firefighters and police officers went door-to-door delivering fliers.

At the City Building, more than 50 volunteers unpacked Gatorade, potatoes, strawberries and oranges, and passed them out to a queue of cars winding through the police bay.

“When I talk about what a great community we have here in Elwood, this is it,” said Arnold, leaning in car windows to speak with families picking up food. “This, right here: these people.”

Many volunteers were wrangled from nearby businesses and throughout the building, including Lori Nutt, who works in maintenance. Passing out boxes of strawberries, she said she was “glad we can help them (flood victims) feed their families.”

For example, April Lilly and Josh Devore, who walked to the distribution with three of their children and a neighbor's child in tow.  

The flood put 6 feet of water in their basement and knocked out the heat. “Then it got cold out,” Lilly said. “It was so cold, you could see your breath in the house.”

With the costs of cleanup, budgeting for food is difficult, she said, and “this really helps.”

As of Wednesday morning, 120 Elwood households had reported flood damage, Arnold said. But that number is still climbing, and total cost estimates for cleanup range in the millions.

Insurance won’t cover everything, so residents and city officials alike are banking on federal assistance.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials started preliminary damage assessments in Madison, Howard, Tipton and Wabash counties Wednesday morning. Elwood spokesman Jeff Howe said they’d be back Thursday.

The assessments are the sixth step in the process of determining whether Elwood will receive federal money.

The fact Elwood’s reached that step so quickly is “very encouraging,” Arnold said. He was originally told it could be weeks.

Like Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @BayleeNPulliam, or call 648-4250.

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