March weather challenges county workers
Beth Rumsey, Staff Writer
The old adage, March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb,
certainly proved true for Ripley County residents this year. A
snow storm began on March 7 and dumped nearly 16 inches of snow
throughout the county. Local schools were dismissed early as well
as many business and county offices. Due to dangerous road conditions,
the Ripley County Commissioners declared a Level II snow emergency,
advising residents to stay off the roads except for emergencies.
According to Junior Heaton, Ripley County Highway Department supervisor,
his crew of 28 employees worked late into the evening on Saturday,
March 8 to clear the roads. The crew continued to clear the snow
from roadways on Sunday, ending about 4 p.m. We never ran
out of salt, Heaton noted, adding, We were low, but
we didnt run out. He said by using a combination of
salt and cinders, the county highway department was able to get
the roads back to normal. The commissioners commended the highway
department on a job well done at their March 10 meeting, with
Commissioner President Robert Reiners saying, They did an
Nearly two weeks later, heavy rains began to fall causing flood
conditions in many areas of Ripley County. Many roads throughout
the county were under water and were closed. According to Heaton,
Cave Hill Road in Versailles and County Road 575 in Friendship
were probably where the worst flooding occurred. He stated that
he and his crew worked late in the night on Tuesday, March 18
and into Wednesday morning, in all three districts putting up
road-closed signs. The commissioners declared a Level I emergency,
the first anyone can remember for flood conditions. Schools in
the county were delayed, with both South Ripley and Cave Hill
Academy eventually closing for the day.
Slick road conditions caused a semi carrying a cleaning solvent
to overturn on US 50, which closed the road for several hours
on March 17. According to EMA Director, Wayne Peace, the dilution
rate of the solvent was high, and would have no effect on the
Peace worked with Indiana Department of Emergency Management (IDEM)
by providing surveillance work of the flood and reporting back
to IDEM. A Local Emergency Proclamation was signed by the commissioners
at their March 25 meeting. According to Peace, by providing documentation
and photos of the flood, the state can locate the flood areas
on maps for future reference. This documentation may help the
county to receive a portion of the expenses incurred by the county
during the flood.
Individuals and businesses affected by the flooding now have the
task of cleaning up. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH)
has provided tips for safely cleaning up a home or business after
the floodwaters have receded. ISDH recommends waiting until the
water recedes to clean up. Injuries can occur due to slippery
conditions, poor visibility or electrical shock. Electricity needs
to be turned off before cleaning and drying light fixtures. Carpets
may be saved by vacuuming the excess water, then shampooing. Make
certain that the carpet is completely dry. Items that can be salvaged
should be washed in a bleach solution of one cup of bleach to
one gallon of water.
Some items cannot be salvaged after a flood. Items that should
be discarded are paper products, insulation, drywall, wet ceiling
tiles and baseboards. Mattresses that have been soaked with the
floodwater should be discarded.
According to ISDH, standing water is a breeding ground for microorganisms.
These microorganisms post a serious health risk to those individuals
with respiratory problems such as asthma or allergies. The ISDH
reminds everyone who has been exposed to the floodwaters to wash
their hands with warm, soapy water.
Individuals are reminded to prepare well in advance of a flood
emergency. The ISDH advises residents to have at least a three
day supply of fresh water, food, and medicines for every member
of the household.
For more information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health
website at www.statehealth.IN.gov.