As the rain kept falling, street and highway crews were placing road closed signs, hurrying to keep storm grates cleared and checking how high the water had risen in key areas.
About a dozen roads across the county were closed Friday, and officials were closely monitoring certain areas to see how well they were draining as an indicator of how high water might rise. Even when the rain stops, water levels could rise due to rainfall north of Indianapolis flowing south.
Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett was checking areas of the city at 1 a.m. Friday. He needed to know whether the city was going to be OK or if trouble was brewing from the heavy rains. He asked street department crews to constantly clear storm grates so water could drain and sent workers to Hurricane Creek at Forsythe Street, where limbs and brush had blocked culverts and started causing the water to back up.
Overall, the city was much better equipped to deal with heavy rains as compared to the flood of 2008, due to ongoing infrastructure projects that improve drainage, Barnett said.
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During the six days from April 28 through Monday, about 3.5 inches of rain had fallen in Franklin and about 4 inches had fallen in Greenwood.
Rain started falling again Wednesday and didn’t let up. By Friday afternoon, at least another 2.5 inches had come down, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.
Even if the rain lets up today as expected, county workers will be diligently monitoring creeks and roads through the middle of next week, Johnson County Emergency Management Director Stephanie Sichting said.
“We still have a lot of it coming from the north that isn’t even here yet,” she said, referring to northern Indiana and that the water will flow south into Johnson County. “They got a lot of rain up there.”
That means creeks and streams could still overflow onto roads even after the skies have cleared, she said.
Water was three feet deep across some county roads Friday.
By midday Friday, water was three feet deep on County Road 250 South, west of U.S. 31, south of Franklin. The water had come up by about 6 inches in recent hours, a county worker said. By comparison, the water was 5 feet deep during the 2008 flood.
Water was also about 3 feet deep in areas of Greensburg Road, southeast of Franklin, during portions of the day.
Drivers should continue to be alert, especially while on county roads, Sichting said. If the road section is underwater, drivers shouldn’t guess how deep the water is or if there has been any damage to the road, Sichting said.
Which roads were open or closed in Johnson County was changing throughout the day on Friday and will continue to be monitored throughout the weekend. At times, portions of Smith Valley Road near State Road 37, Honeycreek and Whiteland roads, Mauxferry Road south of Franklin and multiple other rural roads were closed. Portions of Graham Road and Paul Hand Boulevard also had high water.
Barnett points to multiple projects the city has completed, plus a commitment to maintenance work, that kept water from standing on city streets or causing damage.
For example, when North Main Street was rebuilt, an underground storage tank was installed that holds thousands of gallons of water if creeks are full, and a valve on Monroe Street keeps water from flowing back into the street if water levels rise in the creek, Barnett said.
Province Park was underwater Thursday and Friday, but the park is in a floodway and is supposed to flood, which is why no structures can be built there. City workers had chained the picnic tables to trees to keep them from being carried away.
Barnett said residents likely have water in their basements and crawlspaces, but millions of dollars of work across the city has not only made the streets better to drive on and better looking, but has improved the stormwater drainage as well.
The city recently completed a project funded with a $1 million grant to reline and clean out Roaring Run Ditch, which improved drainage, and the city has a stormwater master plan and tries to complete projects each year to make drainage better, he said.
Work on Jefferson Street also includes installing new storm sewers and putting in better drains. The projects may be a current inconvenience to motorists but are important in the long term, he said.
“It’s also to help the drainage, and it’s working,” Barnett said.
Parts of the Center Grove area that have historically been underwater during heavy rains also fared better this time.
Streets in the Bluff Acre neighborhood were clear, and there weren’t any worries of flooding, longtime resident Jean Clark said.
“I’m sick and tired of the rain, to tell you the truth, but we can’t help it,” she said. “I’m not worried about flooding.”
Which roads in Johnson County are closed or under a high water warning is changing based on drainage and rainfall.
Here’s what roads were closed all or part of Friday:
Smith Valley Road, at Mullinix Road, just east of State Road 37 in the Center Grove area.
County Road 200 North near County Road 75 West, northwest of Franklin.
County Road 250 South and County Road 400 South where they intersect with U.S. 31 south of Franklin.
County Road 300 North and County Road 500 East, which is east of Interstate 65 on the north side of Franklin.
County Road 225 West and County Road 300 South, which is north of Trafalgar and east of State Road 135.
Honeycreek and Whiteland roads, which is east of State Road 135.
Mauxferry Road, south of Franklin, from County Road 300 South to County Road 350 South.
County Road 400 South near Amity where the grave is in the middle of the road.
Smiley’s Mill, on Greensburg Road southeast of Franklin.
Motorists are being warned about high water on other roads. They are:
Graham Road, south of County Road 500 North, which is between Interstate 65 and the town of Whiteland
County Road 400 North, which is Paul Hand Boulevard, all the way from U.S. 31 to Interstate 65, between Franklin and Whiteland