TERRE HAUTE — High water from heavy rains began topping levees in the Terre Haute area on Sunday, threatening evacuations on a day when central Indiana authorities recovered the body of a second flood victim.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the Prairieton area south of Terre Haute through Sunday evening after Honey Creek topped a levee in three or four spots, causing some scouring of the earthen barrier.
Deputy Director J.D. Kesler of the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency said other levees also were being topped and were leaking in some cases.
"We have a couple of areas where if a levee were to fail in those areas, we'd have to move some people out," Kesler said.
The National Weather Service said near major flooding would occur this week along the nearby Wabash River from Clinton, north of Terre Haute, to Vincennes, further south. The Wabash reached its highest level in 55 years Sunday morning at the town of Montezuma and was expected to crest in Terre Haute late Monday, it said.
Authorities recovered the body of David Baker, 42, of Arcadia, on Sunday morning near where his truck sank in Cicero Creek about 30 miles north of Indianapolis, Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Bryant Orem said.
Baker had called 911 early Saturday to report his truck was sinking in the creek. Searchers found the truck later Saturday and family members rescued Baker's dog, but the search for Baker was postponed because of hazardous conditions, Orem said.
Baker's father, Bob, was among the searchers.
"It just picked his truck up and it floated away like a feather," Bob Baker told WTHR-TV.
The weather service said Indianapolis received 5.58 inches of rain over a four-day period ending at 9 a.m. Friday.
Much of it was being drained away by the White River. The river crested Sunday at Spencer in Owen County. The weather service said "very significant flooding" would occur this week along the White River in southern Indiana from Worthington to Hazleton, with levels at their highest in nearly five years.
In Fort Wayne, the Maumee, St. Joseph and St. Marys rivers had all crested and their levels were falling Saturday. The Maumee River was the only one measured at moderate flood levels: It reached 20.6 feet, more than 3 feet above the 17-foot flood stage, on Friday night.
A total of 3.03 inches of rain fell at Fort Wayne International Airport from late Wednesday through early Friday, the weather service said. Forecaster Courtney Obergfell of the weather service office for northern Indiana said rainfall in Fort Wayne was 3 inches above average for the month in just the first 19 days of April.
The weather service forecast rain or thunderstorms for much of the state on Tuesday.