More water than signs for county roads

Authored by Jim Langham on Jan 14, 2013

Adams County EMA director John August said on Sunday night that Adams County Highway Department manager Mark Mitchel had told him that there was a point this weekend when there was more standing water on county roads than his department had signs to mark the ponding.
“He (Mitchel) told me that there were numerous county roads that were flooded from water coming off of fields and from ditches,” said August. “He said that it could still be a problem on some roads on Monday.”
In Geneva, Curt Chaffins, representing the street department, said that there were numerous streets affected by standing water including US 27 and Rainbow, Winchester Street and Indiana 116 on the each side of town which was surrounded by water on Sunday evening.
In addition, said Chaffins, major flooding was occurring in the Limberlost wetlands on the town’s southwest side, with water reaching from the wetlands to the ball diamond in the park area.
“People need to drive with caution; there’s quite a bit of standing water out there,” said Chaffins.
In the meantime, the St. Marys River continues to rise and is expected to crest at 22.6 feet, several feet above flood stage, by some time on Wednesday.
August said that although the record flood was 26 feet, water that high could cause moderate flooding in areas along the river, including certain roads and areas stretching from Willshire to the Decatur area.
Rick McCoy, EMA director and weather specialist from Van Wert County, said he had spoken to officials at the National Weather Service in North Webster on Sunday evening and was informed that highway officials are watching U.S. 33 with a wary eye during this event to see whether or not that roadway is going to have to be shut down.
In Van Wert County, said McCoy, there were reports of water flowing as high as the bottom of mailboxes along John Brown Road in parts of that county. In addition, a power outage in Van Wert Sunday morning complicated things and caused flooding in many homes due to the facts that sump pumps weren’t running.
McCoy said that reports of water accrued from rain occurring from Friday evening until Sunday evening easily exceeded three inches in many areas, with most areas receiving a minimum of two to three inches over the period.
“Of course there was the blanket of snow that had been on the ground that also carried some moisture,” said McCoy. “It turned out to be quite a hydrological event for our area.”
August said that there were isolated reports of barns and farm buildings surrounded by water due to the flood.
The Adams County EMA director said that an upcoming forecast for the next several days has a “mixed ring” to it. No more precipitation is predicted for several days, but things are supposed to turn sharply colder, which quickly freezes water on roadways into ice.
“I can’t emphasize how much caution we need to exercise on county roadways at this time,” said August. “At any turn or over the next rise in the road, there could be standing water. Slow down, drive with caution. Hydroplaning accidents can become very serious in a hurry.
“As it turns cold, there could be patchy ice and black ice on roadways. Drive with caution in mind, and please error on the side of caution,” continued August. “There’s still plenty of water out there to cause problems for the next several days. Keep posted to local media outlets for updates on flooding along our rivers and ditches.”

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