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As flooding worsens in southern Indiana, the St. Marys River remained steady in Decatur ... but that could change as the rain continues to come down.
The St. Marys stood at 16.4 feet here at 7 a.m. today, a slight dip from the 16.7-foot reading of 24 hours earlier. The river was measured at 12.5 feet on Monday morning.
Local weather station officials said at 9 a.m. today that they had been informed by the National Weather Service that the river would crest here at 19.2 feet around 8 p.m. Thursday. The river's flood stage is 17 feet, but it causes no significant problems until surpassing 20 feet.
Meanwhile, the rain continues. the weather bureau said there was a 100 percent chance of rain in the Decatur area today, followed by an 80 percent for tonight, a 50 percent chance for Thursday and a 30 percent chance Thursday night.
Big winds will also be continuing: 20-25 mph from the south today, 10-15 mph from the west tonight, and 15-20 mph from the west on Thursday — with gusts up to 35 mph predicted.
After a high of around 65 degrees today, the high is forecast to fall back to the low 50s on Thursday, then back back to the low 60s on Friday.
Meanwhile, flooding due to relentless rains in southern Indiana could take weeks to subside, the National Weather Service says.
Some areas have received more than a foot of rain since April 12, with as much as 4 more inches forecast by Thursday. That’s causing major to near-major flooding along the East Fork White River from Rivervale to Shoals, along the lowest reaches of the Wabash River and along the lowest reaches of the White River in southwest Indiana.
The weather service says southern Indiana flooding will continue through early May and could last more than three weeks in some areas.
Extensive river flooding is also expected in much of central Indiana by Friday.
In Pakota, Robert Murphree ferried his children to a drugstore parking lot in a boat Tuesday morning so they could catch the school bus. Later, he stood outside his mobile home in southwestern Indiana, watching the Patoka River race by a few feet away.
Sporadic evacuations were reported, including a mobile home park in Vanderburgh County where officials were concerned about two rising creeks. But elsewhere, many residents planned to stay put, and communities stepped back from sandbagging amid optimism they would escape the type of severe flooding that struck the area in 2005.
About 75 to 100 homes in river communities along the East Fork White River in Bedford were flooded with 6 to 12 inches of water Tuesday.
In Evansville on the Ohio River, officials were bracing the city’s levee system against likely flooding, setting up posts that hold flood walls. The river was expected to crest at 46.5 feet Friday. If it reaches 47 feet, officials plan to place aluminum panels in the flood wall posts.
National Guardsmen and inmates from the Department of Correction also were at work in New Harmony, a picturesque community of 900 residents about 25 miles northwest of Evansville that was founded in 1814 as part of a failed attempt to create a utopian society.
Posey County Emergency Management Director Larry Robb said crews had spent two days stacking sandbags along a 1,300-foot stretch of the town’s levee to protect the town’s drinking water plant.
Robb said officials were concerned because flooding on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers was preventing the Wabash from discharging normally. That meant the water had nowhere to go but up.