On Monday, United Way of the Wabash Valley (UWWV) Executive Director Troy Fears and Clay County Commissioner Paul Sinders presented a check for $146,057 to the River Bottom Improvement Company (RBIC), Clay City, to reimburse a portion of the monies used for levee repairs following the June 2008 flood.
"We are very grateful to the United Way and county officials for helping us after the devastating flood," RBIC Secretary Ivan Hofmann told The Brazil Times. "It was the first time the levee broke since it was established in the 1930s."
Hofmann added there were six complete breaks in the levee, and RBIC President Jon Nicoson said approximately 2,900 acres of farm land was damaged during the flood.
"We were able to plant a late crop after the levee was repaired, and we planted a full crop last year," Nicoson said.
RBIC Board Member Marty Evans said with the rain falling before the June 7, 2008 flood, the river had already swelled, forcing the organization to spend its entire budget for the year.
"The river was already big before the storm hit," Evans said. "Our budget is normally $15,000, which was spent on diesel fuel to run the pumps two weeks prior to the big flood, which dropped another 10 inches on the area. There were easily 20 families directly affected by the breaks in this levee, probably more."
Evans added the flooding created an estimated $3 million in crop losses, but help from Frey's Drainage and Excavating, Farmersburg, sped up the process of repairing the levee -- which regulations specified could only be done back to its original size and shape -- in order to plant a late crop in 2008.
"In total, it took about a month-and-a-half to do all the repairs on the levee, which ranges from 10-feet to 40-feet tall in some areas," Mike Frey, of Frey's Drainage and Excavating, told The Brazil Times. "We worked on each of the sections, which ranged from only a couple hundred feet to one break that was about a quarter-mile long."
However, with RBIC's budget completely spent at the time, they had to find another way to pay for the repairs.
"(First Financial Bank Vice President of Ag Lending) Alan Badger helped us get a short-term loan to fix the levee," Hofmann said. "The funding will only be in our hands a few minutes because it is going directly to the bank to repay the loan."
"Farmers and landowners in the area were hit very hard, and knowing that this is their livelihood, we have been working on this for some time with a great team effort from everyone involved," Sinders, who is also part of the Wabash Valley Long-Term Disaster Recovery Coalition, said to those in attendance for the check presentation. "If I were not a commissioner and I was put in your shoes, I would certainly hope there would be someone who would go to bat for me."
Fears said the monies came from the Disaster Recovery 2 funding from the Lilly Foundation, through the Indiana Association of United Ways.
"I feel blessed to be able to help the rural farmers who were hit so hard by the flood," Fears told The Brazil Times. "This is a big majority of the funding specifically for Clay County, and there may be some left for smaller projects."
Evans said he was grateful for the assistance from all involved, adding while the flood was a sight to see, he hopes it is the last time.
"It is something tremendous to see the power of what 10 inches of water can do," he said. "The whole area filled up like a big sink, but I hope to never see that again."
The first name of River Bottom Improvement Company President Jon Nicoson was inadvertently misspelled when this article was originally posted on April 14, 2010. The correction has been made to the above article and is current as of April 20, 2010.