Historic flooding is predicted

Massive amounts of rainfall across the region and north of Livingston, Grundy, Daviess and Carroll counties has lead to historic flooding.

According to the National Weather Service, flood waters on the Grand River are expected to crest Thursday morning at 40.2 feet, above the 1993 record of 39.6 feet.

At that level, there will be a substantial effect on many main roads in the area. According to the National Weather Service: at 37 feet U.S. Highway 36 southwest of Chillicothe is under water; at 35 feet U.S. Highway 65 south of Chillicothe is threatened by flood water; at 28 feet rural roads are underwater and at 24 feet low-lying croplands flood.

“At 40 feet highway 36 could, possibly, be closed in both directions,” Chillicothe Fire Chief Darrell Wright said. He also noted it is hard to say if Highway 36 near Utica will flood, since it was rebuilt after the 1993 flood. He said that reports he heard from engineers stated they believed the road would remain open there.

Several roads throughout Chillicothe and in Livingston County have been reported as closed, the list, Wright said can be hard to keep up with as water depths are pretty constantly changing. The uncertainty of the river levels is why officials decided to close Chillicothe R-Ii School summer classes on Wednesday.

As the water levels change, at times, minute by minute, Wright cautioned those who may be out sightseeing to stay at home.

“The bridges get hit by a lot of brush during floods, and while they are checked during the days, you never know what kind of damage are being done to them, especially at night,” he cautioned. “So unless you have to be out and be on the bridges please, stay home.”

He noted that when clogged drainage systems finally break loose damage can happen in a matter to seconds.

“You never know what can happen and at night when it is hard to see, it really can be fatal,” he said.

He also noted that simply driving through flood waters can cause additional damage to businesses, homes and other property in the area.

Wright said that during this round of storms Chillicothe Fire Department crews have not had to do any water rescues, though they have in the past.

“Turn around, don’t drown” he said. “Be careful if you decide to try and fish. The water moves quickly, you don't know what is underneath you and there could be chemicals and glass or other dangerous things in the water. Staying out of the water is best.”

As roads close, he also asks residents to be patient.

“Patience is just key - it is a must,” he said.

Road closures may affect emergency services ability to respond to certain coverage areas, but Wright said other area agencies are assisting and while responses may not be as fast, help will be on the way from the closest available agency.

“It is important to stay out of the way of emergency responders and road crews, they are out there doing the best they can, and staying out of their way will help everyone out,” he said. “Watch the weather, be alert and pay attention to warnings.”