Goshen residents combat flood

Feb 21, 2018


Indiana Avenue in Goshen is closed and underwater near the evacuated Creekside Mobile Home Park.
Credit Jennifer Weingart

Rivers and streams around Michiana continue to overflow their banks following rapid snow melt and heavy rain. Some residents have been evacuated and others are filling and placing sandbags to try to save property.


A state of emergency over the flooding was declared in Goshen late Tuesday.


Roads are closed in Elkhart, St. Joseph and Berrien Counties. Some schools are closed for a flood day.

The St. Joseph River in South Bend has passed historic flood levels and so has the Elkhart River in Goshen.

“We’re still seeing the water levels rise," said Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman. "The past record was 11.9 feet,” That flood was in 1982. “We’re now at 12.37 feet and it’s expected to possibly go up past 13 feet yet so we’re watching the water levels closely.”

So are the owners of low-lying property like council member Adam Scharf. He was at the Goshen City Street Department bagging up sand to try to keep the water out of his house. “We’re sandbagging at the street department along with a bunch of other folks from all parts, lower parts of the city.”

Goshen City Council Member Adam Sharp (left) ties off sand bags with other Goshen residents.
Credit Jennifer Weingart

“We’re sort of uncertain because we’re in new territory." Sharp said. "It’s gonna be a foot and a half higher than it’s ever been in history so we don’t know exactly where it’s gonna go. So we’re just trying to prepare for the worst here.”

He said the water hasn’t gotten to his house yet, but he has been using his tractor to shuttle his neighbors back and forth across the river that is his road.

As residents shovel sand into bags Heather Tobias Herron pulled up. She said there would be a trailer coming in shortly with about a hundred filled bags on it.

Herron is one of the owners of The Oasis in Linway Plaza. The bar has taken on water. At 8 a.m. it was in the parking lot. They came and filled the sandbags, when they got back to the bar they couldn’t get close enough to place them.

“A couple of the guys were able to get in and water was already in the kitchen and up to the bar and had creeped in. It’s supposed to crest tomorrow and be the worst tomorrow and then once it goes down to get in and see what our losses are.”

Herron said they bought the bar in September and were planning renovations but the flooding pushed their timeline forward. She said she still feels lucky.

“I saw Goshen fire takin’ the boats out to evacuate people out of their homes with boats. So I know the police and firemen are doing everything that they can for our community. So I mean we have lost a business not our home.”

Goshen's water plant sits in water. The electricity to the plant has been shut down to prevent fires. Workers were piling sandbags near parts that weren't yet underwater.
Credit Jennifer Weingart

  In addition to water rescues the city’s water treatment plant has flooded. Stutsman said they’ve turned off the power to prevent fires and that, coupled with the flooding has impacted the sewers. “Our sewer systems are maxed out. So we’re doing our best to manage that as well. We’re starting to see some back-ups in homes but it hasn’t been too bad yet.”

Water in Goshen is still safe to drink. Stutsman said they’re working on evacuations near Huron street around Kroger. He said they’re going through ahead of where they think the water will be to give people the chance to leave while it’s still light out.

The river is supposed to peak tonight. Then they’ll have to start working on recovery.

The National Weather Service is keeping hydrology maps for the flooding.

Local governments are using their websites and Facebook pages to keep residents up to date on the latest flooding issues.

*This post has been edited to fix a misspelling. The city council member from Goshen is Adam Scharf, not Sharp. We apologize for the mistake.