County still working on repairs to flooded building

County offices damaged by the July flooding still are months away from being re-opened while workers continue making repairs and determining what can be salvaged.

Heavy rain caused extensive flooding in Franklin and elsewhere in Johnson County about two months ago, causing about 2 to 4 inches of floodwater and sewage to go into the basement of the courthouse annex building, just west of the courthouse. Employees in the county’s health, planning and zoning, and surveying departments — all of which were housed in the basement of the building — had to move due to the damage and have been displaced the past two months.

The planning and zoning, and surveying departments are being housed at the Johnson County Museum of History. Employees of the health department have been scattered across the top floor of the annex building, Johnson County Commissioner Kevin Walls said.

The county has been communicating about the changes to people who regularly use the services of the displaced departments. All of the contractors in Johnson County were notified by email of the temporary move to the museum, Walls said.

Once the departments come back to the annex, the county again will send out announcements about the move, he said.

New floors and carpeting are needed in the basement, and 3 feet of drywall will also need to be removed and replaced, Walls said.

Desks and other pieces of furniture were removed by a restoration company, which is working to determine how much can be cleaned and salvaged and what will need to be replaced, Walls said.

Flood insurance will cover the bulk of the repairs with the county responsible for the $100,000 deductible, Walls said. The final cost of the damage won’t be known for at least several weeks, but he’s certain it will be above $100,000.

When county staff move back into the basement of the annex building, one of the departments won’t be joining them. The health department is instead going to be located out of 460 N. Morton St. Suite A, director Betsy Swearingen said.

The health department will be leasing 4,500 square feet of space for $57,000 a year, with the funding coming from county’s general fund, she said.

All 20 of the health department employees will be moving and the department won’t be changing any of the services offered. The moving process has already begun, with furniture being placed at the new site, which is planned to open to the public on Monday, Swearingen said.

The section of the annex building that the health department was located in was the most damaged, so it made sense to have them move to another location, Walls said.

The county will convert the former health department space into storage, but will keep all the items on shelves and safe from any future flooding, he said.

Steps have also been taken to mitigate the damage from future flooding. A perimeter drain has been installed around the basement, which will collect water and send it away via a sump pump, Walls said. Outside of installing the perimeter drain and sump pump, which cost about $15,000, Walls doesn’t know of any other steps the county could take to prevent flooding in the building, he said.

Even if the new system had been in place prior to the July flooding, it may not have been enough to stop water from getting into the building, but it would have slowed it down and reduced the amount of damage, he said.

A 2008 flood caused about $575,000 damage to the annex building after a couple inches of rainwater mixed with raw sewage seeped into the ground floor of the building. Computers, telephones, furniture and documents were destroyed.

At a glance

The locations of some county offices have moved while repairs are being made to a building that flooded in July. Here’s a look at where the displaced offices are and where they will be moving:

Planning and zoning

Current location: Johnson County Museum of History, 135 N. Main St., Franklin

Next location (beginning of December): Johnson County Courthouse Annex, 86 W. Court St., bottom floor


Current location: Johnson County Museum of History

Next location (beginning of December): Courthouse annex, bottom floor


Current location: Courthouse annex, top floor

Next location (Oct. 2): 460 N. Morton St. Suite A, Franklin.

Author photo
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2702.