NOTE: Readers can view a photo gallery of the flood damage by visiting www.thebraziltimes.com/gallery/june08flo....
Dispatchers at the Clay County Justice Center and the Brazil City Police Department started fielding phone calls from motorists reporting high water on area roads while on their way to work around 4-5 a.m.
An overnight storm front dumped 4-11 inches of rain on the area before the sun came up Saturday
Around 6 a.m., damage reports started coming in, and emergency response personnel were sent out.
"I don't think anyone realized how bad it was until it got daylight outside," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said. "We've had heavy rain before, but nothing quite like this."
After early assessments and many county and city roads closed due to high water, the Clay County Commissioners and Brazil Mayor Ann Bradshaw issued State of Emergency announcements, virtually closing down roads throughout the county. The county lifted its state of emergency around 4:30 p.m., Sunday to allow residents to use the majority of county roads.
Traffic was diverted to United States 40, and into Brazil.
"We're getting traffic from I-70 and there is no place to send them," Clay County Emergency Director Bryan Husband told The Brazil Times. "Unless it is an emergency, people need to stay home."
But many residents ignored the warnings and went sightseeing anyway.
"This is so cool," a group of teenagers wading through high water covering one intersection yelled out as their picture was taken by a Times photographer. "Look, it's up past our waists."
The desire to see potential history in the making is understandable, but officials can't stress safety issues enough.
Officials agree that no one should attempt to play or drive in high water, because the force of moving water in a flood is dangerous.
"There wasn't much water crossing the road on I-70 at the 30-mile marker, but it was enough to push a semi off the road," Heaton said. "There's a 100-foot section of the road missing on County Road 200 South, between CR 500 and 425 West. The water went through there with so much force it pushed the culvert out from under the road and into the woods."
Law enforcement officers and volunteer firefighters worked the areas of congested traffic throughout the county because of I-70 closing.
INDOT employees worked through the night to make emergency repairs to the erosion damage in the westbound lane at the 30-mile marker of I-70 in hopes of opening the road Sunday afternoon, which it did open briefly, but was closed again because the asphalt collapsed again due to flooding.
According to officials at the Indiana State Police, the opening of I-70 is now undetermined, but a substantial delay is again expected. Repair work is scheduled to begin early this morning.
The eastbound lane of I-70 is open to traffic.
Traffic will continue to be detoured through Brazil where it will continue south to I-70 west. The Brazil Times received reports that it was taking more than an hour to travel to the intersection of State Road 59 and US 40, from in front of Great Dane.
Motorists are urged to find alternate routes around Brazil to help alleviate some of the congestion within the city until I-70 is reopened in both directions.
Even with the high water, flooding and dangerous road conditions, there have been no reports of injuries as of press time.
"Things went smoothly out there this weekend," Heaton said. "People were out sightseeing, but they used caution."