Friday, April 19, 2013

The great (well, sort of) flood of 2013

 It's 31 degrees here this morning (a little chilly for mid-April) and Highway 14 must still be open --- if the Iowa Department of Transportation road conditions map is to be believed. It's a little early to drive out and take a look.

This is how 14 looked from the cemetery at "rush hour" --- 5:30 p.m. maybe --- yesterday as those who live south of the Chariton River were trying to get there. Water had been creeping up gradually during the day until the south-bound lane was covered.

I'm not sure exactly how much rain we got from Wednesday into Thursday and beyond, but it was enough to send both the Chariton and the Whitebreast out of their banks, disrupting traffic flow through and within Lucas County.

Highway 34 remains closed from Chariton through the Lucas Bottoms to the intersection of 34 and Highway 65 just west of Lucas. The problem at the Chariton end is the Chariton River which has flooded the bottoms just south of town. That stop sign in the distance marks the intersection of South 16th Street and U.S. 34.

The Lockridge lumber yard is located at this intersection and workers there were forced to move some items in the outdoor inventory to higher ground.

I wanted to drive out to Lucas, since the Whitebreast flooding there is generally more dramatic, but couldn't figure out how to sneak into town from behind --- the DOT blocks paved approaches to flooding --- without going up through Lacona because the old stage road Whitebreast crossing probably would have been flooded, too.

 I did run down to to the Chariton River's New York Road crossing, where water was over the road but not dramatically so. However, here's a good example of why we're advised against driving through water on flooded roads. See how the water is eroding the lefthand side of the roadway.

 Pulled into the Slab Castle entrance road (the various incarnations of Slab Castle itself are long gone), which reminded me that I haven't walked back that way in a long time, and want to do so when it dries out.

Then the guy in the blue pickup (a fellow flood tourist) and I drove on in procession to the Chariton crossing on the first crossroads linking Highway 14 and the New York Road just south of town --- and enjoyed the view. The DNR employee who lives in the house on the hill north of this mailbox was pulling out after we turned around and headed back east. I wonder if he made it home --- the water still was rising.

 Flooding usually causes minimal personal property loss in Lucas County because, as a rule, we've known better than to build near streams. But I'm sure the county supervisors are holding their heads this morning, wondering where they money to repair flood-damaged roads is going to come from.

 Maybe I'll drive out to Lucas and take a look at the flooding there once the water goes down a little.


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