BLACKFORD and GRANT COUNTIES, Ind. - Torrential rains targeted a swath of northern Indiana overnight Friday, dumping nearly a foot of rain in one area, swamping highways, triggering at least one major rescue and leaving officials trying to cope with fire and flood.
Blackford County's school district canceled classes for the day, and drivers were being asked to avoid nonessential travel. Some homes and buildings were flooded.
"We're seeing water standing in areas we've never seen water stand before," emergency management director Aaron Henderson said. "There's just nowhere for it to go."
Firefighters in Blackford County were cut off from a blaze at an auto repair shop by three to five feet of water. Blackford County deputy emergency management director Gene Henderson said the rural property north of Hartford City is surrounded by a creek or ditch, which forced several departments to fight the blaze from the road.
The National Weather Service (NWS) of Northern Indiana said both the Salamonie and Mississinewa rivers would likely already be in moderate flood stages by sunset Friday.
WEATHER | Showers, storms still possible Friday
Indiana State Police closed Interstate 69 in Grant County between the 263 and 265 mile markers (near SR 18), but as of 10:30 a.m., all lanes were back open. ISP said waters covered the roadways after heavy rainfall.
ISP said water had begun receding from I-69 and Indiana Department of Transportation officials were monitoring water levels.
In eastern Grant County, north of Muncie, officials were preparing to send fire trucks and emergency vehicles into the 300-home Stonecrest mobile home park in case it is severed from the surrounding area by the rising Mississinewa River, emergency management director Bruce Bender said.
Fire officials in northwest Indiana used boats to rescue 18 people when floodwaters surrounded their homes.
Sgt. Larry LaFlower of the Porter County Sheriff's Department said rain-swollen Salt Creek had trapped four families in their homes in an older neighborhood that's prone to flooding in South Haven, 15 miles east of Gary.
"The whole stream was flooded so there was no way they were going to be able to get out to the street and get away from the floodwaters," he said.
Meanwhile in Madison County, the Emergency Management Agency there had to deal with directing traffic around high waters, downed trees and toppled power lines.
Eastbrook Community Schools also had to close for the day. Transportation Director Jeff Bernaix told RTV6 all schools were closed in the district due in part to flooding, but also due to their lack of power or Internet.
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