This aerial image was taken of U.S. 31 at Greenlawn Cemetery and Franklin Lakes subdivision on Tuesday night.

Reporters are in Bargersville, Whiteland and Franklin today to bring you updates on the damage left behind after 7 inches of rain fell on Tuesday.

Red Cross helping flood victims in Whiteland

Workers and volunteers from the American Red Cross are going door-to-door in Whiteland this morning to offer help to flood victims.

In a natural disaster, the Red Cross offers food, necessities and can arrange shelter for flood victims. The organization was contacting residents in neighborhoods on the north side of Whiteland Road.

Damage at Greenlawn Cemetery

Aerial images show part of Greenlawn Cemetery off U.S. 31 and South Street underwater on Tuesday night as about 7 inches of rain that fell further north flowed south to Franklin, which was already saturated from up to 5 inches of rain during the day.

On Wednesday, the water was nearly gone, and cemetery workers found headstones toppled by the current and knick-knacks, flowers and other memorabilia placed on headstones washed away. Workers are collecting any items they find, and residents can come to the cemetery office to claim any items that they had placed on headstones.

About 20 headstones, mostly on the northern side of the cemetery near Youngs Creek and the west side along U.S. 31, had been knocked down, said Stuart Smith, cemetery operations supervisor.

Families are responsible for resetting or replacing their loved ones’ headstones because families, not the city, own the stones.

The water had gotten 1 to 2 feet high in some areas of the city cemetery. Floodwaters also flowed into the cemetery maintenance building, and city and parks workers worked until 10:30 p.m. to move heavy equipment and vehicles before they were ruined, Smith said.

County government offices closed, roads being checked for damage

Several Johnson County government offices are closed today and tomorrow due to flooding.

The offices that are closed are located in the west annex building, at 86 W. Court St. The health department, planning and zoning, surveyor,  commissioners, auditor, treasurer, recorder and assessor are closed through Thursday.

Water levels rose on Tuesday evening, prompting officials to close part of U.S. 31 and Jefferson Street. The waters had receded by this morning.

Two to four inches of water flowed into the west annex building, but has since been removed, county commissioner Brian Baird said. Workers are using dehumidifiers and sand to dry the building out.

The building is closed to the public and employees are not working. Count officials will decide at noon Thursday whether to re-open on Friday, Baird said.

No equipment was lost, Baird said. Any paperwork on the ground might have been ruined, but file cabinets and records were saved, he said.

Clean-up crews were also at the north annex, located across from the Johnson County Courthouse on Jefferson Street, when some water got in the basement, where the county maintenance director and assistant offices are housed. The water has been removed and fans are running.

Johnson Superior Courts 2 and 3 are housed on the upper levels of the building, and those courts are open and operating as normal, Baird said.

The county highway crews were surveying roads for any damage, and so far had located one small road collapse.

A small area, barely more than one foot, on the side of one rural county road had collapsed, Baird said. No other road, bridge or culvert damage had been discovered.

Downtown businesses cleaning up

When former Franklin mayor Fred Paris redid a downtown building to open a restaurant, he knew that the property was likely to flood again.

He put in concrete floors, and raised the floor 8 inches when the building on Jefferson Street was being redeveloped to house Triple Play Barbecue.

On Tuesday night, as the waters rose, Paris and his staff began placing sandbags to keep floodwaters from getting inside. This time, it worked.

“It will happen someday,” Paris said. “I’ll get water in my building someday. I’m prepared for that.”

The area is prone to flood due to Youngs Creek to the south. As water from rainfall to the north flowed south and the creek jumped its banks, the city closed Jefferson Street in front of his restaurant and U.S. 31 near Greenlawn Cemetery.

On Wednesday, he was pumping some water out of the restaurant’s basement. He was already thinking about how he wants to put a new focus on working with Mayor Steve Barnett to relocate businesses located to his west and south, which are in the floodway, Paris said.

“I got very lucky.”

Aerial images of a flooded U.S. 31 show water creeping close to Swartz Family Community Mortuary and Memorial Center on U.S. 31 at the intersection of South Street and Franklin Lakes Boulevard. No water came inside the building, however.

Some Franklin parks are still under water, and employees haven’t been able to survey the extent of damage, parks and recreation director Chip Orner said. He was working to save equipment from the cemetery maintenance building on Tuesday night, and said the water came up quickly and the current was strong.

Parks workers didn’t have time to get all picnic tables secured to buildings or trees, so some will need to be found and moved. For example, a picnic table in Province Park along Youngs Creek was carried away and got caught on a shelter house, Orner said.

Shelter houses were all underwater, and the electronic gate at the dog park is likely ruined, he said.

During the 2008 flood, the community center was damaged by floodwaters. But drainage improvements kept any water from getting inside this week, Orner said.

Watching the water rise — again

A resident who lost her neighbors after their homes were damaged and torn down following the 2008 flood watched the waters rise again this week.

Sue Spurr, who lives on Hemphill Street just south of Greenlawn Cemetery, and her late husband didn’t want to leave their home of more than 35 years after the city began to buy the damaged homes and create an urban forest following the 2008 flood.

On Tuesday night, she watched floodwaters come up quickly and get within 40 feet of the single home that remains on the street.

“It was a little bit scary at times,” Spurr said. “It came up so fast.”

She had monitored the rainfall on Tuesday and canceled two appointments due to flooded streets. After after the storms moved out, she thought she was in the clear.

“I thought, OK, we’re done,” Spurr said. “At 8 p.m., no we’re not.”

She said the water rose within 10 minutes and was moving quickly. Drivers had been using Hemphill since South Street along the cemetery was flooded. Within minutes, the city closed her street as well and sent drivers to Dunn Street.

The water eventually stopped rising, but kept moving quickly. She went to bed, and saw that the water had gone down this morning.

“I can say I survived two now,” Spurr said of the flood of 2008 and this week.

Author photo
Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2774.