Friday quickly turned hectic for residents of South St. Joseph and the Lake Contrary area as emergency crews went door to door and sounded sirens to alert them of possible flooding.

Just after 9 a.m., those who live in the evacuation zone, all areas west of Lake Avenue and U.S. Highway 59 and south of Atchison Street down to Contrary Creek, were told that they had until 1 p.m. to grab their belongings and leave before water could be on the roadways.

By Friday afternoon, areas near Kirschner Street and Lake Avenue appeared like ghost towns.

Get what you can

Waynie Nigh and Tim Simerly live together in a trailer near the lake. They said police told them they had to get what they could and head out of the area.

"Last night it was voluntary and today they're coming around and it's mandatory, they're going door to door now," Simerly said Friday.

Nigh has lived in the trailer since 1998 and said she isn't concerned about damage to the structure itself, but is worried about things being left behind.

"A friend of ours with a truck and trailer helped us get a lot of our big stuff and we got our other stuff in our vehicle," Nigh said. "I don't like leaving my trailer."

They said they were frustrated and felt rushed, but weren't worried about their safety.

"We're not so much scared, because we did get enough advance notice," Simerly said. "But, there's things that you're going to leave that you hope will be here when you get back."

Sounding the sirens

A firetruck with a loudspeaker drove through neighborhoods in the area loudly announcing "attention, attention, mandatory evacuation of the area" as officers walked from home to home to tell people to flee.

Police directed heavy traffic at major intersections where hundreds of vehicles could be seen leaving the evacuation area.

However, there were some who drove into the potential flood zone to help those in need.

Charles Blaylock spent his day helping his mother move her belongings. He said they were focusing on items that were worth money.

"We just kind of grab the TVs and the important stuff and go ahead and clear out with that," Blaylock said.

Blaylock said he isn't concerned about his mother's trailer getting damaged.

"I think everybody is probably exaggerating a little bit, I don't think over here is going to get hit too bad," Blaylock said. "It's scary stuff though, for the people that are (hit)."

Helping hands

Chelsey Faudoa helped her brother-in-law move his mother's belongings. She called the day "tragic," and said she was worried about people who would choose not to evacuate.

"Well I hope everybody gets out safely and nobody just stays around, because it's kind of up to them and that's a scary thing," Faudoa said.

Another local, Ben Hughes, raced down to Pine Street to try and help his father-in-law move things from his home after learning of the impending evacuations. 

"I just jumped in the car and came down, argued with the cops going across the tracks of course," Hughes said. "This street down here had at least 70 cars on it."

Several residents said they had neighbors who would not be leaving despite the warnings.

According to City Manager Bruce Woody, it is unknown the exact number of people who were evacuated at this time.

Brendan Welch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWelch.