Nearly 10 years after severe flooding devastated Edinburgh and Franklin, both communities are getting help from the state to be better prepared if a similar flood ever happens again.
The Office of Community and Rural Affairs gave grants to Edinburgh, Franklin and 18 other cities and towns across Indiana that will pay for flood response plans. An engineering company will create a flood response plan for each community. The amount of the grants was not available.
The purpose of each plan is to reduce the risk of damage and danger to the community. Engineers will work with city, town and county officials to create step-by-step protocols for flood preparation, response and recovery. With the response plan, emergency workers and county, city and town officials will be able to identify areas in Franklin and Edinburgh that become the most vulnerable for flooding during heavy rains.
With the new response plans, both Franklin and Edinburgh will be able to identify when flooding could happen much sooner. That means residents will be warned earlier and given more time to prepare or evacuate if necessary. Evacuation routes could be altered, or new ones added onto the new plan.
In Franklin, the response plan will be developed by engineers with assistance from officials from the street department, city engineers and police and fire officials, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said.
“Hopefully, we’ll never have to use the response plan,” McGuinness said. “This is a great opportunity. We would have a plan in place so everyone knows what they’re doing if flooding like 2008 ever happened again.”
Franklin and Edinburgh’s response plans will be created by using information and data from previous floods to serve as a blueprint for engineers. Understanding past flood events will help engineers determine Franklin and Edinburgh’s vulnerability to flooding and provide guidance for the new plan, said Stephanie Sichting, director of Johnson County Emergency Management.
Since 2008, Franklin and Edinburgh have worked to revamp their flood preparation and response, but having the grant will take those efforts to an entirely new level of preparedness, officials said.
Edinburgh also plans on using officials from multiple town departments, police and fire, said Wade Watson, Edinburgh’s interim town manager.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity to participate. In a small community, we pull from all our resources. Anytime you have outside perspective it gives you an advantage,” Watson said.
Every five years, Johnson County Emergency Management creates a plan for the entire county that covers preparation, response and recovery from emergencies such as flooding or other natural disasters, Sichting said.
The planning will take place during the next two years, Sichting said.
“The response plan may provide a different outlook Franklin and Edinburgh never thought of,” Sichting said. “You can never have enough planning.”