Flooding continues as heavy rains cause creeks, rivers to rise in county

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For all of those residents who bemoaned the lack of rainfall last summer and fall – those wishes are being fulfilled now as days of heavy rains have caused streams and creeks to swell over their banks here in Switzerland County; which is leading to rising water levels on the Ohio River.

George Adams, director of Switzerland County Emergency Management, said that Bud Ballard Road, Goose Creek Road, and Bennett Road in the county were either covered by water or very close to being covered as of Tuesday afternoon; and the additional rainfall on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning continued to push those levels even higher.

People all over the state are being cautioned about what to do if they encounter flooding or high water conditions, as more of Indiana is experiencing heavy rainfall.

George Adams said that anyone living near a body of water – ponds, rivers, streams, etc. – needs to be aware that levels can change rapidly and that flooding can begin with little or no warning. He said that people living in such areas need to consider evacuating in advance of flooding if they believe that rising water may cut off their access route to and from the home.

For those driving in flood conditions, it’s important to be cautious. Roads may be washed out or things like potholes may be covered by water. A vehicle can float away in as little as one foot of water.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security advises drivers to take alternate routes if they fear their normal route will have high water; and also advised to follow some safety tips before leaving your home in flooding conditions.

– Do not travel unless absolutely necessary, and when you do travel, carry a cell phone with a car charger.

– Pay attention to local media and listen carefully for all flood and flash flood warnings that are issued by the National Weather Service.

– For general information about severe weather safety, go to www.getprepared.in.gov

– For county travel advisories, go to www.in.gov/dhs and click on the “Travel Advisory Map” at the center of the page.

– Visit www.TrafficWise.IN. gov or call (800) 261-7623 for reports of state highways being closed due to high water.

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For those who are out on the roads and encounter high water, there are also some important points to remember:

– Turn around when you see water over the roadway. Don’t drive through high water.

– Be especially careful at night. Many drownings due to high water and other accidents occur at night when it is difficult to see water crossing the roadway.

– Don’t drive around barricades on roadways. They were put there for the protection of drivers.

– Be aware that road erosion may occur under running or standing water. If you can’t see the road, you can’t be sure it’s still there.

– Remember: six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, which can cause a loss of control and possible stalling.

– A foot of water will float away many vehicles, but even a few inches of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles and pick up trucks.

– Drivers should slow down. Driving fast through high water creates less tire contact with the road surface and increases the chances of losing control of the vehicle.

- Driving through water may affect your brakes. Drivers should test their brakes at low speeds as soon as they leave the water-covered area.

“People need to make sure that they follow the guidelines when they encounter flood waters,” George Adams said. “We are also on standby in the event that someone needs to be rescued; and we can arrange housing if necessary for people who are displaced by the high water.”

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If anyone is enjoying this rain – to a point – it’s Switzerland County farmers.

With approximately four weeks remaining before most county farmers are heavily into planting, Chuck Deputy of the Switzerland County Farm Service Agency says that the rain will have a positive impact on county agriculture.

“It’s not really affecting anything at this point,” Chuck Deputy said. “It’s really harder on the livestock than anything because of the mud. As far as the crops, it’s not hurt anything. There’s already a little bit of wheat out, and it’s good for that. It’s good for the pastures and hay. I think we’re getting caught back up from where we missed all of that last summer.”

Chuck Deputy said that the rain is a positive thing overall, but is more of an inconvenience for everyone, with livestock producers having to feed hay in the mud and cattle having to walk through deep mud, which can be hard on them.

“But overall it’s a good thing for the crops, because it’s going to get our water table back up and get back to normal.”

Chuck Deputy said that the middle of April is the traditional time that farmers begin their planting.

“In the riverbottoms, if the weather’s right, they can start the first week of April,” Chuck Deputy said. “They need warm temperatures to warm that sandy soil up, but overall the middle of April on is when we see most people get started.”

Along with drier conditions, the temperature of the soil plays a big part in when farmers begin planting. Chuck Deputy said that if seeds are put into wet, cold soil, the seed will rot in the ground.

“It has to be dry, that’s the main thing, but you want some sunshine to heat that soil up, too,” he said.

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The National Weather Service was calling for continued rain today (Thursday), with cloudy conditions and continuous showers throughout the day and night.

There seems to be a break in the rain beginning tomorrow (Friday), with sunny skies and only a 10-percent chance of rain. Temperatures tomorrow are expected to be in the high 40s and low 50s; and those same conditions are expected to continue right through the weekend. Saturday’s high temperature may top 60 degrees.

There will be more sunshine on Monday; but rain again comes into the forecast beginning on Tuesday, with showers expected on Tuesday and Wednesday.