Johnson County flooding causes partial government shutdown

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind – The lingering effects of major flooding in Johnson County continue to cause problems around Franklin and areas to the south.

Early Wednesday morning, food water flowing to the south caused Youngs Creek to flow over its banks near US 31 in Amity.

About a dozen people had to be evacuated from their apartments at the Desperation Depot. It’s not clear how long it will be until the residents can return to their rooms. Managers say the flooring and drywall will likely have to be replaced.

“I feel so sorry for them, and if I can help in any way, I will help,” said nearby resident Samantha Garrett. “I’m the lucky one because I’m upstairs. But all these people here, they are just out of everything.”

Several county government offices were closed and employees sent home Wednesday because of flooding at the government center’s west annex in downtown Franklin.

Johnson County Commissioners announce the Wednesday and Thursday closures of the Commissioners Office, Surveyor, Planning & Zoning, Auditor, Treasurer, Recorder and Assessor.

A flood remediation crew could be seen outside the annex building Wednesday morning, with long hoses extending into the building, attached to pumps outside.

The Johnson County Health Department’s office was also flooded, but those employees continued working out of the Emergency Management office.

Health Department Director, Betsy Swearingen, said there were about six to eight inches of water in the building’s lower level.  And this is the first time the offices have flooded since the 500-year flood of June 2008.

“When it flooded in ’08 it came from the toilet,” Swearingen said. “But this time it actually came from the floor drain in the bathroom.”

The Johnson County Prosecutor’s office was also closed Wednesday because power to the building had been knocked out Tuesday night.

Other areas around Franklin saw water levels receding Wednesday.

Flood water had gone down considerably Wednesday afternoon in places like Greenlawn Cemetery, Heron Park and Franklin Action Park.

But several county roads remained under water Wednesday, with the county still under a Yellow Travel Advisory.

Tuesday night’s flooding affected roughly 50 roads, streets and highways. 911 dispatchers took 17 calls for water rescues on Tuesday night.

In the aftermath of the flooding, and with more rain in the forecast, Swearingen said there were health concerns to consider around the county.  Specifically, the health department is concerned about people with private wells that may have been contaminated with flood water.

“Any that’s not considered potable water, doesn’t come from a cold water line or a hot water line, can be considered sewage,” Swearingen said.  “So we would consider any flood water to be sewage”

She also urged the public to stay away from flood water because of fears over tetanus and other infections.

Swearingen said the health department is planning to hold a health clinic on Friday where people can come to get tetanus shots. The department will also have sample bottles available so residents can test their well water.

The clinic will be held at Franklin Middle School from 1:00 p.m to 4:00 p.m.

The Red Cross Shelter at Franklin Middle School will also remain open through Wednesday night. The Red Cross will then evaluate Thursday how long the shelter should remain open.

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