Warm weather is welcome end to a week that started off with temperatures in the negatives. But the combination of snow and now above-freezing temperatures has melting on the minds of street crews and emergency agencies.
According to the National Weather Service, river-flooding is projected in areas south of Michiana near Tippecanoe and Rochester. In St. Joseph and Elkhart counties the flood threat stems from melting snow pooling in the roadways and basements of people’s homes.
“With how mother nature is going to treat us in the next few days, certainly some concerns with melting taking place,” said deputy director of Elkhart County’s emergency management, Mike Pennington.
Pennington said the agency’s focus has been on plowing roads and keeping them safe. The sudden spike in temperature required some reallocation of resources to make sure the county’s three sandbagging stations would be stocked if flooding ensued.
Free sand and bags can be picked up on C.R. 7 just north of the landfill, C.R. 46 near S.R. 15 at the Boy Scout camp, and finally at the Elkhart City Street Dept. located on 17th St. in Elkhart.
Low-lying properties and those in flood plains are at risk for flooding, but Pennington said most of those homeowners are well-equipped to gauge the situation and take the proper precautions.
In Goshen the street department has been working around the clock since Saturday night to deal with the storm. The department’s 16 employees have been taking turns running the plows to make sure the roadways are clear for drivers.
Denny Long, director of Goshen’s street department said the fear with increasing temperatures is that roads, yards and basements could flood from melting snow.
Plows and shovels will be used to clear pooling water and make paths toward catch basins and storm drains. However, piles of snow often block these water exists and lead to flooding.
“With the amount of snow in the yards, people are going to be getting snow in their basements,” said Long, “you throw an inch of rain on top of all this snow,” and Long said the surface snow will melt and run off to warmer ground—like the ground closest to the foundation of homes.
To prevent runoff Long recommends making sure there are access paths to catch basins and the sewer system. If the water has somewhere to run off too, then it won’t necessarily enter into unwanted places.