Joan and Bob Nash
It takes a lot to drown Joan Nash's indomitable spirit.
But her smile disappears, her head drops and her shoulders droop when she tells about hearing that the river was going to flood in Tippecanoe County's Horseshoe Bend in February 2008.
She recalls thinking, "Oh hell, here it comes again."
Just 29 days earlier, on Jan. 8, 2008, the Tippecanoe River, usually waist- to chest-high at her home, had topped 17 feet, eclipsing all records, according to Dave McDowell, Carroll County Emergency Management Agency director.
Joan and her husband Bob, now both 75, had 20 minutes to escape before 4 feet of water rushed in, pummeling their home at the river's edge. Their home looked ransacked. Shards of wood dangled from what was a deck. Furniture was overturned and battered. Bulges made the living-room flooring look like a mogul course. Everything—even insulation inside walls—was drenched.
When the Nashes returned, a musty smell permeated the air. Mold growing under siding "bugged our sinuses," Bob remembers.
Recovery was just beginning when the second flood hit Feb. 6, 2008. "It was not quite so big but still devastating," says Al Shipe, a National Weather Service hydrologist.
Mold Team Responds
Help for the Nashes came from a now 3-year-old Purdue Extension program that is swiftly becoming a national model. The Indiana Mold Team has helped thousands of people recover from floods and other disasters through a network of Purdue Extension educators, social-service providers and volunteers the team has trained.
It all started in 2007 with extensive flooding throughout Indiana. While Extension action teams had been set up in response to the flooding, Steve Cain, director of the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) at Purdue, felt something more permanent was needed to deal with the health and structural problems that mold creates. Enter the Indiana Mold Team.
The team partners with 10 regional disaster-assistance groups and is "ready to respond when disaster strikes," says Mary Lou Elbert, Purdue Extension director in Warrick County and co-coordinator of the mold team. When there's an incident, a disaster-assistance group coordinator alerts the area mold team member, who contacts the local Purdue Extension office.