GREENCASTLE -- More than two years after the catastrophic flooding of June 2008, Putnam County is moving into the final stage of flood recovery.
A Community Development Block Grant for $464,789 will go toward fixing 38 bridges in the county damaged by the floods. The grant is administered by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
This last round of funding is important because of what bridges -- many of which were damaged by the flooding -- mean to the ease of travel in the county. At one location in the county, the difference in having and not having a working bridge is 22 minutes in an ambulance's arrival time.
To understand how the county qualified for these funds, though, is to take a trip back to 2008 to a simple phone call made by United Way of Putnam County Executive Director David English.
Shortly after a number of counties around the state (including Putnam) were designated as federal disaster areas, the Lilly Foundation gave $45 million to the Indiana Association of United Ways to be administered in aiding community recovery.
From this contribution, the Indiana Natural Disaster (IND) Fund was born.
Upon getting notice of the IND program, English simply had to make a phone call expressing interest to get the ball rolling.
From that point, a local coordinator of the disaster recovery project had to be appointed. Dick Andis stepped into this role.
Additionally, a local coordinating committee had to form. From across the county, 28 individuals from various backgrounds came together and got to work.
"This worked the way I think these things have to work," County Commissioner Jim Baird said. Baird served on the committee and was the lead government agent involved in the effort.
"This was one of the few groups that really, really functioned as a local coordinating committee," Andis said.
While coming from various backgrounds and areas of interest, the committee members managed to find the appropriate amount of give and take to decide exactly what areas needed to be addressed.
"I have not seen a committee work as well and be willing to get rid of turf issues," English said. "These people went outside the box to the extreme betterment of the community."
Initially, the county received $100,000 to use in assessing the needs of the county, including those of roads, bodies of water and personal property.
After the assessment phase, the local Soil and Water Conservation District received $161,250 to use, not only to help local streams and rivers recover, but to prevent future flooding.
This final round of funding for the bridges brings the total the county has received to over $700,000 to help in flood recovery. English, Andis and Baird all agreed that local officials could have tripped up at various times and not have arrived at this point.
"There were many times we could have dropped the ball," Baird said.
But the ball was not dropped. People from around the county came together for a common goal, and they aided the county in what has been a long and successful recovery effort.
"I think the community needs to know what a group can do when it works together," English said.