Tuesday afternoon, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security issued a press release warning of possible unseasonal flooding in the next few days in northern and central Indiana.
Widespread, heavy rain, falling over much of the area on Tuesday, according to the release, is expected to continue on Wednesday. That rainfall, combined with snow melt and soil thaw, makes flooding a possibility “in low lying areas and near creeks, streams and rivers.”
As of this writing, the danger level is categorized as a flood watch, as opposed to a warning. A flood watch, the release states, means there is “potential for flooding, and those living in areas prone to it should be ready to take action should flooding develop.”
With parts of Decatur County falling into the possible flood danger zone, Lt. Robert Duckworth of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department and director of the Decatur County Emergency Management Agency, told the Daily News that residents should remain diligent in watching roadways for flooding.
“We’re probably at the southern edge of possible rainfall area,” Duckworth said.
Duckworth expressed confidence that the recently-completed Gas Creek project has significantly reduced the probability of severe flooding in areas of Greensburg previously vulnerable to rising water.
“Our last significant flood event here in Greensburg and Decatur County was in 2008,” Duckworth said. “That flood also heavily impacted Columbus. That was before completion of the Gas Creek project. The lower areas of Montgomery road, especially where Fleetwood contacts Montgomery, were highly susceptible to flooding during the 2008 event.”
“The Gas Creek project has significantly improved that entire area, greatly lessening the probability of flooding,” he finished.
Duckworth cautioned, however, that improvement doesn’t equate with complete protection. The Gas Creek area, he stressed, can still experience high water.
“The biggest difference now,” he added, “is the improved drainage. Once rainfall subsides, those areas improved by the Gas Creek project return to normal much more quickly than they did previously.”
Duckworth also named the area of Main Street at Monford as another Greensburg problem spot still prone to flooding.
“I’m not sure I’m even comfortable characterizing the problem at Main Street and Monford as ‘flooding’,” he amended. “It’s probably more accurate to call it a ‘standing water’ problem because the area drains pretty quickly.”
According to Duckworth, the greatest dangers posed to Decatur residents by flood waters lies in water-filled roadways. The danger of being flooded out of one’s home is far-less likely in this area, he agreed.
“We encourage people to be aware of any water level and not to try to drive through running water,” Duckworth said. “Watch for rising water, especially when traveling at night, and be aware of conditions.”
“One of the greatest dangers of driving in heavy rainfall or flooding conditions at night is the fact that standing water reflected off car headlights can look identical to blacktop. In that situation, the driver doesn’t even realize the road is under water until too late.”
In regards to roadway flooding, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security press release adds:
“Never attempt to cross a flooded road, even if it seems shallow. Water can conceal dips, or worse, flood waters can damage roadways, washing away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground.
“Do not drive around barricades at water crossings. They are there to protect the public. Disregarding warning signs and attempting to cross flooded roads endangers everyone in the vehicle as well as the first responders who may need to come to the aid of those that are stranded.
“Remember, just a few inches of moving water is enough to carry away most vehicles including SUVs and pick-up trucks. —Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize high water danger.”
For more information on flood safety, visit getprepared.in.gov.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.