The Star Press, Lathay Pegues, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — Residents in central and northern Indiana battled fire and water after torrential rains overnight caused widespread flooding Friday.
Firefighters in northeastern Indiana 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, forcing several departments to fight the blaze from the road.
Emergency management director Aaron Henderson said the county just north of Muncie saw at least 8 inches of rain. Its school district canceled classes for the day, with Henderson citing numerous flooded roads. Drivers were being asked to avoid nonessential travel. He said some homes and buildings were flooded.
"We're seeing water standing in areas we've never seen water stand before," he said. "There's just nowhere for it to go."
An 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. Runoff from the rain could cause flash flooding through midday, the weather service said.
State police temporarily closed a swamped section of Interstate 69 in both directions near Marion, but it reopened by late morning, Indiana State Police Sgt. Ron Galaviz said. No stranded motorists or injuries were reported, he said.
And 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.
"Mother Nature's in charge of this thing, like it or not," Galaviz said.
In northwest Indiana, fire officials 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 in South Haven, 15 miles east of Gary, that's prone to flooding.
"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.
A Grant County dispatcher said deputies rescued a few stranded motorists overnight. Streets were also flooded in Muncie.
The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings Friday morning for Grant, Blackford, Jay and sections of nearby Wabash, Huntington and Wells counties in central and northeastern Indiana. The weather service said seven to 10 inches of rain had fallen in eastern Grant and Blackford counties, with up to seven inches falling since midnight.
Associated Press writers Tom Davies and Rick Callahan in Indianapolis contributed to this report.
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