Although the countywide damage assessment is still in progress, Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband told The Brazil Times that approximately 60 percent of the roads in the county have sustained some form of damage.
"I'd say 30 percent of the roads have severe damage, being totally washed out, with the rest sustaining minor damages, like having the gravel washed away or portions of the pavement washed off," Husband said.
The Clay County Highway Department confirms that eight county roads will be closed for an undetermined time because of damage from the recent flooding. (See the information box.)
Fast moving water tore off portions of asphalt and eroded the ground underneath many roads, while roads with culverts have sections missing because the force of the water pushed culverts out of place.
The streets in Brazil have also experienced some damage, most of which officials confirm is minor, but motorists are still urged to drive with caution.
The closure of Interstate-70 is also causing problems. A portion of I-70 has been closed since Saturday morning when a section of the highway collapsed at the 30-mile marker due to erosion from heavy rains and flooding. Officials rerouted traffic to United States 40 and into Brazil, where traffic was backed up for miles.
Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) road crews completed repairs around 1 p.m., Monday, but the road needed to "cure" for several hours so it could handle the weight of traffic when it reopened.
Crews worked overnight Saturday to make repairs but when it was reopened late Sunday afternoon, the road collapsed again under the weight of traffic.
Traffic lights have been set to allow for better traffic flow and more than 30 officers and reserve officers from the Clay County Sheriff's and Brazil City Police departments are directing traffic along US 40 in Brazil.
While Indiana State Police troopers are working the intersection at State Road 59 and US 40, local officers are stationed on US 40 at the intersections of Murphy Ave. and Vandalia St., and south along SR 59 at Jackson and Pinckley streets.
According to law enforcement, motorists need to obey the stoplights, unless an officer is directing traffic in the area.
"Things are running fairly smooth considering that we have two lanes of interstate traffic backed up for 6-7 miles in one lane," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton told The Times via telephone interview Monday. "We're scheduling officers to work traffic through midnight in case we need them, but we're hoping the road will open sooner than that."
Heaton said officers remained on patrol throughout the county and "we're operating as normal."
Brazil City Police Captain Dave Archer agrees.
"We really appreciate the public's patience during this time," Archer said in a telephone interview. "There are a lot of motorists in the area who are not familiar with our little town, so local residents really need to drive defensively if they have to travel in the area, and please pay attention to the weather."