Weekend rains deluge area with flash flooding, travel problems
By Shelia Tomkins
Clayton County was hard hit by a series of thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday that dumped torrential rain and caused numerous travel problems.
A line of thunderstorms moved through the area Friday morning, accompanied by heavy rain. The main round came Saturday morning, when severe thunderstorms dropped torrential amounts of rain throughout the county, causing flash flooding that covered roads, caused washouts and forced the evacuation of campgrounds.
Lock and Dam 10 at Guttenberg reported nearly four and a half inches of total precipitation on Friday and Saturday. Rainfall estimates ranged from 4-6 inches in Clayton County. There were numerous flood watches and warnings issued Saturday, and the threat for flooding was expected to continue through mid-week.
The Turkey River rose quickly on Saturday, and residents in the Garber area once again rose to the challenge by sandbagging to protect property. The river crested there at approximately 27.18 feet Saturday (flood stage is 17 feet and major flood stage is 23 feet) and then began to drop rapidly. County road C7X to Colesburg was closed for a time due to water over the highway.
At Millville, the Turkey River and Little Turkey filled low-lying bottom land and came very close to covering Highway 52 late Saturday, before waters began to recede.
Many county secondary roads saw major damage with washouts, mudslides and fallen trees blocking roadways. There were scattered power outages caused by fallen trees. Many homeowners in both rural areas and communities dealt with flooded basements.
Fire department volunteers and other emergency responders were called out on Saturday to deal with storm damage. The Guttenberg Fire Department responded to numerous calls Saturday morning. Flash flooding inundated the road and land adjacent to Miners Creek and caused the temporary closing of the Garber Road bridge in the Guttenberg city limits.
"Crews were out as soon as possible trying to prioritize critical infrastructure," said Guttenberg City Manager Barry Dykhuizen. "When it rains that much that fast it is virtually impossible to stay on top of it: you prioritize public safety, assess the damage, and start the clean-up."
The causeway road to Abel and Esmann Island was under water for a time on Saturday, and flash flooding on Buck Creek to the north threatened the railroad bridge there.
Clayton County Engineer Rafe Koopman on Monday said that the secondary roads department was still responding to calls. "I know of two bridges that are not usable and we are still doing assessments on other bridges," he said.
The bridge that was recently repaired at the Kraus crossing north of Osterdock was opened earlier than planned, said Koopman, in order to allow residents access when other routes were blocked. "We also wanted to use those barricades," he said. "We ran out of them to block roads that were flooded or impassable."
See complete story in this week’s issue