Michiana in meltdown mode

Michiana is officially in meltdown mode and South Bend has called out the catch basin cavalry to stem the rising tide.

“This morning I thought it was beating us up,” said Sewer Maintenance Superintendent Dale Helpingstine. “But I feel real comfortable now, real good now.”

South Bend has about 36,000 catch basins. Catch basins are basically drains that allow the water on the streets to enter the sewer system.

About 40 city workers spent the day cleaning catch basins and another 20 will work through the night doing the same.

“So much snow, we couldn’t get it back far enough, quick enough, cars run it over, it becomes ice, sometimes as much as eight to ten inches thick,” said Helpingstine.

Crews have pretty much cleared the catch basins along the most heavily traveled roads and will now move on to residential streets.

As crews work through the night and temperatures fall, motorists are advised to be cautious.

By mid-afternoon today, officials in St. Joseph County closed Turning Leaf Drive in the Nature’s Gate Subdivision.

What started out as a puddle had grown into a pond-like body of water more than 12 inches deep.

“I think 90 inches of snow, when it starts to melt is going to cause some issues for the roads and for driving and obviously you can see in our neighborhood it’s about a foot of water down at the end of the corner,” said Nature’s Gate resident Sean Boudreau.

It took much less water to shut down one of the eastbound lanes of the U.S. 20 bypass this afternoon—although the water there was high enough—given the high speed nature of the passing traffic.

And the customer traffic at River Park Furniture in South Bend this morning had to be rerouted through the store’s back door because the sidewalk out front was flooded.

“We get them out to buy furniture then we have to get a boat to bring them into the front door,” said a frustrated Wendy Bognar.

Eventually, it wasn’t a boat, but a city vacuum truck that arrived to solve the problem.