[UPDATED] Flooding closes roads in Franklin County

Heather Avenue between Highway 3 and 140th Street near Coulter is one of four gravel roads in Franklin County closed due to flooding. More closures are expected throughout the week.


            Travel is not advised on gravel roads in Franklin County this week due to relentless rainfall throughout the region.

            Nearly 10 inches of precipitation has fallen since Monday. The extreme rainfall has flooded streams, rivers and waterways in Franklin County, which has led to washouts on some gravel roads.

            The board of supervisors declared Franklin County a disaster area by mid-morning on Thursday. By 2 p.m., the Franklin County Sheriff's Office had issued a no-travel warning for all county gravel roads. The county engineer's office said 23 roads in Wisner Township alone had been impacted by flooding.

            “A lot of the roads are impassable,” said Franklin County Emergency Management Coordinator Thomas Craighton. “Travel is definitely not advised. People just don’t need to be out there.”

            The disaster declaration will allow county officials to obtain state resources to deal with flood-related issues, Craighton said.

            "Many roads across all of Franklin County have been impacted by flooding," Craighton wrote in a press release Thursday afternoon. "Areas of washouts around culverts over roads make travel hazardous. Be extra careful if you are traveling at night."

            Jeff Baltes, engineering technician with the Franklin County Engineer’s Office, expected additional closures as the day progressed. More precipitation was expected late Thursday afternoon and in the evening. He echoed Craighton’s warning, and asked residents to stay off gravel roads for the time being.

            “Obviously people who live on gravel roads have to use them, but if you don’t just stay off,” said Baltes. “They’re getting really saturated. You just have to kind of wait out the storm. This one is sort of interesting because of the duration of it.”

             Franklin County Sheriff Larry Richtsmeier said cleanup kits are available at the Law Enforcement Center in Hampton for residents affected by flooding. The sheriff's department kept busy Thursday dealing with road washouts and other flood-related issues, and Richtsmeier didn't expect a break anytime soon.

             "If you check the radar there’s another one coming in and it sounds like it’s supposed to be just as intense as what we’ve had this morning," he said. "We’re not done yet."

             Flooding in northern Franklin County near Sheffield has led officials to contemplate sandbagging areas to keep water away. However, Richtsmeier was unsure late Thursday afternoon if they'd follow through with those plans.

             "The water level is coming up due to the high rains up in Hancock County and Winnebago County coming down through Sheffield. They’re getting anxious up there," he said. "Looks like that might be necessary. We’re not sure, but there’s a very good possibility."


              This article was revised at 3 p.m., Thursday to include additional information from Thomas Craighton.

              This article was revised at 4:05 p.m., Thursday to include additional information from Larry Richtsmeier.