Hazleton Finally Feels a Little Relief

Reporter:  Tanya Jourdain

Web Producer: Amber Griswold
There are signs of relief from the volunteers and national guardsmen in flood weary Hazleton, Indiana on Friday.
All their work of sandbagging round the clock paid off. The levee is holding, and the river levels dropping. It is just the news the residents in Hazleton needed to hear.
All that, prompted Emergency Management officials Friday afternoon to lift the evacuation order in Hazleton. Folks can now go back but there are some restrictions.
About half the town was evacuated earlier this week when it looked as if the levee might break.

Captain Terry Hyndman, D.N.R., said, "Our goal now is to allow residents to start coming back into town with a fire department escort, starting at 1 o'clock this (Friday) afternoon to light their furnaces. They'll be required to leave again, and then it's our goal that perhaps tomorrow afternoon or tomorrow evening that they'll be able to return to their homes."

Conservation officers say they won't feel completely safe until the river level drops another four feet or so.
Trouble is, there is more work to be done. And the bitter cold temperatures are not making it any easier for the volunteers or the National Guard Troops.

Although it looked warm Friday afternoon, the sunshine over Hazleton, Indiana didn't fool workers.

"They're calling this 'Winter storm fury #2."

Members of the Indiana National Guard work eight hour shifts in the cold, trying to keep the rushing river out of area homes.

P.F.C. Dewey Titus, IN National Guard, said, "We'll switch out squads every couple hours so we can go warm up and keep our guys fresh."

The freezing temperatures make their work much tougher. Extremities are the first parts of the body affected.

The frigid temperatures aren't just affecting the sandbaggers, it's affecting the sandbags themselves. It's so cold the water inside is actually freezing up.

"When they get wet, they freeze-up, so they get heavier."

Volunteers do their best to keep the citizens soldiers warm.

P.F.C. Titus explained, "A lot of the locals around here have been cooking for us and making sure we're warm."

Hadfield added, "Oh, they're excellent. There's a half dozen ladies in there that have fixed us breakfast, lunch, and dinner, hot coffee, hot cocoa and taking really good care of us."
Nancy Jones, a Princeton resident, said, "Oh, they deserve it."

Guard members will continue to reinforce the weakened levee as long as their needed. If it breaks, half of the small town will be underwater.

Josh Hadfield, who worked in 150-degree temperatures back in July in Iraq, says it's all part of the job.

He said, "Well, it feels pretty good that we're helping out and keeping the water back and keeping the flood under control here. We're just happy to do our part."