INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — 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.
Officials were keeping an eye on rising rivers as water that had been drowning highways began to trickle off.
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.
But the downpour took greatest aim on the other side of the state at Hartford City, dumping nearly 11 inches of rain on the northeast Indiana community. The area between Fort Wayne and Muncie saw the largest rain totals, according to the National Weather Service, which issued flash flood warnings for several counties.
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.
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.”
State police temporarily closed a swamped section of Interstate 69 in both directions near Marion, but it had reopened by late morning, Indiana State Police Sgt. Ron Galaviz said. No stranded motorists or injuries were reported, he said.
A Madison County Sheriff’s Department car flipped over on I-69 in Grant County, but the deputy had minor injuries and wasn’t taken to the hospital, a sheriff’s dispatcher said.
A Grant County dispatcher said deputies rescued a few stranded motorists overnight. Streets were also flooded in Muncie.
“Mother Nature’s in charge of this thing, like it or not,” Galaviz said.
Associated Press writers Tom Davies and Rick Callahan in Indianapolis contributed to this report.