Flood concerns continue as Johnson waterways swell

The Johnson County Schools District dismissed schools early Wednesday due to concerns over high waters throughout the county, but remained closed the rest of the week due to illness in the schools, with Superintendent Thom Cochran stating that school would have had to have been cancelled Friday due to the high waters, regardless of the illness. 

The Johnson County Schools Board of Education cancelled school Wednesday due to “high water concerns” and a forecast that included continued heavy rain, according to a statement from the district.

Elementary Schools closed at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, while Johnson County Middle School and Johnson Central High School released students at 11:45 a.m., the statement said.

The U.S. National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch Wednesday that will remain in effect until Sunday at 7 a.m., with the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River reaching a height of 28.7 feet as of 9 a.m. Friday. According to the statement, a flood advisory remained in effect until 7 p.m. Friday evening, while the river was expected to drop below 28 feet that evening. The statement said that, at 35 feet, the river would flood low-lying areas throughout the county and necessitate the closure of the underpass on Euclid Avenue.

Forecasts predicted further rainfall throughout the weekend in Johnson County, with the weather expected to break Sunday. As of presstime Friday, Superintendent Thom Cochran said school was expected to return to regular schedule Monday.

Even with the floodwaters expected to recede, Johnson County Schools remained closed throughout the rest of the week for other reasons, according to the JCBOE.

In a follow-up statement that evening, the JCBOE announced that the schools would remain closed for the rest of the week, due to illness in the schools.

“We treat the safety and health of our students with the utmost importance, as always, and as such, made the decision to release early Wednesday to prevent any of our busses having to contend with possible flooding to get our kids home,” Cochran said. “The decision to cancel for Thursday and Friday was made due to reports of high incidence of illness throughout the schools, including the flu, according to our local health providers. Any time we can take proactive steps to safeguard our students’ health, we do our best to ensure those steps are taken. We will continue to treat our students’ wellbeing as our number one priority moving forward.”

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