By Steven Penn —
Hendricks County was bombarded with torrential rainfall several times throughout the week, most recently from a storm that blew through Indiana Thursday night and into Friday morning.
The National Weather Service estimates total rainfall in Hendricks County from April 16 to 19 to be 6 inches or more, leading to flooding, which prompted road closures and turned many areas into impromptu lakes.
Hendricks County Highway Department Superintendent Curt Higginbotham said the department had to close numerous county roads.
“In the north end of the county, County Road 200 North east of (C.R.) 600 East is closed (due to high water). That’s by White Lick Creek,” he said. “C.R. 250 E. south of C.R. 601 N. is closed, that’s due to some road damage caused by previous high water. We’ll have to fix the road there. (Also C.R.) 1000 N., west of State Road 267 is closed due to high water and that’s there underneath the railroad tracks that are just west of S.R. 267.”
Higginbotham said he saw a lot of the same in the south part of the county.
“In the south part of the county there are just numerous roads closed here and there,” he said. “Probably, (C.R.) 800 S., west of S.R. 267 is the biggest closure and bits and pieces of Tudor Road and (C.R.) 1000 South are also closed due to high water.”
The next step, Higginbotham said, is after the water goes down to inspect the roads for damage, which is caused by the force of the water on the roadway.
“If we can repair the damage right away, we will,” he said. “Otherwise we’ll have to close the road until we can get to it to make the repairs.”
Another important job for the department is making sure roads that aren’t flooded are clear, Higginbotham said.
“We’re also working on a lot of log debris on bridges throughout the county,” he said. “In our rural areas we plow off a lot of corn stalks ... where the corn stalks wash out into the road, that’s another thing we’re doing this morning.”
Higginbotham said he’s had crews out since midnight Thursday night and into Friday morning.
“We were out since midnight, at least partially just putting up signage so people know there is water over the road,” he said.
“That’s about all we can do, to let people know that water is over the road and then hopefully they will heed the signage and not drive through the water, which is the smart thing to do. We probably had a dozen guys out since midnight, of course we’ve had our full force since about 6 a.m. (Friday).”
Higginbotham said the main thing for people to remember is to not try to drive over flooded areas.
Area resident Amy Atkins Hayden told the Hendricks County Flyer via Facebook that high water has flooded her basement.
“My basement is flooded,” she wrote, “about six inches. (I’m) drying out with (a) shop vac and fan. Hauling stuff out to dry or to be trashed. (The) sump pump failed and we didn’t hear the alarm.”
Counties all around Hendricks experienced similar flooding or worse, with numerous roads being closed. In neighboring Boone and Montgomery counties, some residents living along Sugar Creek had to be rescued by boat.
One of the hardest hit areas here was the Avon Junior Athletic Association diamonds at 866 S. C.R. 625 E. D.J. Payne, AJAA Little League baseball director, said all but two of the diamonds are flooded.
“From what I saw from the pictures, we have 11 diamonds down
there and nine of them, the infields were 100 percent underwater,” he said.
Payne added that gauging by how high up the water was on the fences and equipment shed, it was probably close to three feet high.
“The only two fields that don’t have the infield entirely covered are the two closest to C.R. 625 and kind of the farthest away from the creek,” he said.
Payne said in his 10 years of being at the diamonds, this is the worst flooding he’s seen.
“We’ve actually lost one of our tee-ball diamonds in the back to some erosion back there and I’m guessing we may lose our second one back there with this bout,” he said. “In the 10 years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen anything this bad. Some of the messages I’ve seen floating around back and forth today talk about either 2004 or either 2001 being a pretty big flood down there, but in my 10 years, this is as bad as I’ve ever seen it — by far, not even close.”
As for where to go from here, Payne said he’ll meet with some of the other AJAA officials to figure out an action plan.
“The softball director ... and myself, our grounds folks, and then officers will get together sometime over the weekend and develop a plan,” he said. “We’re closed for the foreseeable future ... once the water recedes there’s going to be a lot of work.”
Payne anticipates a lot of AJAA equipment may be ruined, but the main office building was unaffected.
“Our main office building, which houses the concession stand, the main restrooms, the garage where we store the heavy equipment, and then upstairs is where the administrative office is, that building apparently is dry and didn’t take on any water,” he said. “But I think that’s the only thing dry down there.”
Payne said he hopes the flooding won’t affect the start of the AJAA season.
“Our opening day is scheduled for a week from (today),” he said. “I don’t even know looking forward what that will look like. We want to make sure the fields are ready and that they’re safe and they’re ready to play. If at all possible, we’d like to keep the schedule as it is.”
He said that anyone who would like to donate money and/or time may check the AJAA website at www.AJAAonline.com for information about how to get involved with the cleanup process.
“We haven’t had anything to this extent in a long time,” Payne said. “I’m fairly convinced with the families we serve that we’ll be up and going as quickly as possible. We have 690 or so boys registered for baseball and another probably 375 girls registered playing softball. That’s the impact of what’s going on is to them, it’s not to us.”