Officials urge area residents to be prepared for potential flooding as at least two inches of rain soaked the county through this morning.
Clay County Highway Garage Supervisor Pete Foster told The Brazil Times that county workers were out traveling county roads early Tuesday morning looking for flooded roads throughout the county.
"An area near County Road 1100 North and CR 300 East was temporarily flooded this morning, but the water quickly receded," Foster said about putting signs in areas of standing water on county roads to alert area residents. "But people living in these areas are usually aware of the possibility their road can flood. We will post warning signs on roads with standing water, but The Clay County Sheriff's Department usually advises the department of road conditions for potential closures."
Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton says it is a team effort to maintain the safety of Clay County residents in situations like this.
"The deputies, while on patrol, will notify the Highway Department of unsafe road conditions, but the Clay County Commissioners make the final decision on road closures," Heaton said.
Officials also urge residents to drive safely during any severe storms.
Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road because determining the depth of water is not obvious and the road may be washed away. If a car stalls, the occupants should leave it and seek higher ground because rapidly rising water may engulf the car, pick it up and sweep it away.
"Motorists should avoid standing water in the roadway, but especially avoid moving water on the roads," Heaton said. "Even a small amount of moving water on a roadway has the potential to wash a car away."
Late Tuesday evening, tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for Clay County and other surrounding counties.
Using the most current track of the weather front, the Indianapolis National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for Clay County Tuesday afternoon, including a flood watch (which means conditions are right for potential flooding in low-lying areas and near Eel River) until this morning and a flood warning (which means flooding is imminent or has already been reported) in the area near Bowling Green until Thursday evening, or otherwise cancelled.
NWS forecasters believe the recent rain will be unable to soak into the partially frozen ground, creating areas of flooding. Although flash flooding is not expected, forecasters said the rainfall in the past two days could potentially cause area streams, creeks, ponds and small rivers to rise slowly and overflow into county roadways throughout the remainder of the week.
Officials also encourage motorists to remain out of floodwaters if at all possible and say no one should play around or near high water, storm drains or viaducts during flood conditions.
The Clay County Emergency Management Department was in contact with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the National Weather Service throughout Tuesday.
Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband told The Brazil Times that Clay County could expect severe weather through Tuesday night. Husband will report storm damage and road conditions to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
"We are ready to foresee and respond to any emergency situation in the county," Husband said, adding that it is just not the rain in Clay County causing problems. "It's been raining north of us, and all that water travels south along the waterways. That is why if there are flooding problems in an area, people really need to let officials know."
Gathered at their quarterly meeting Tuesday night at the Clay City Fire Department when the storm entered Clay County, local fire chiefs stated they were prepared to work all night to help clear road hazards from storm damage and help county officials assess road conditions in flooded areas.
Because weather conditions are always changing, officials urge residents in flood plain areas to be aware of the latest information and instructions for their area.