BY MELANIE BUCK –
Polk County has yet again suffered from torrential flooding rains that passed through the county on Saturday night into Sunday bringing more water to an already saturated area. More than eight inches of rainfall has been reported in multiple locations across the county and according to Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison, “the first five inches came very quickly on Saturday night.”
Ellison was out and about by 4 a.m. Sunday surveying damages left behind by the floodwaters. “The biggest damage came Saturday night. Just about every bridge in the County was under water at that point. Although they didn’t all get damaged, there was high debris around all of them,” Ellison said.
He also said although the Mountain Fork area suffered some damage, most of the damage occurred from Hatfield to the southern portion of the County. An early estimate of the damages is around $150,000 in total and Ellison said there wasn’t enough to file for a disaster declaration or assistance. “It won’t be the most expensive projects, but a lot of smaller ones add up and it will take time to get them all fixed.”
Ellison expected all roads to be opened by Monday evening, with exception of two, Polk Roads 22 and 274. Polk Road 22 had the most amount of damage in the county. Two pipes that were 7-8 feet in diameter were filled with debris causing the road to “blow out”, sending a large section of the road downstream in pieces. The road will be impassable for quite some time. Also, the approach to a bridge on Polk Road 274 needs work, causing it to remain closed until further notice. Ellison said other than those two roads, “everything else should be open and they may be rough but the other roads are passable.”
Some of the fall road projects the County was working on have been delayed due to this flood and the flooding that occurred during Thanksgiving. Three county roads were set as resurfacing projects but will not be complete until spring. The center section of Polk 41 needs more drainage work in addition to resurfacing. Polk Roads 45 and 46 have also been delayed on resurfacing. However, Ellison said the roads and the work that has already been completed, “stood up beautifully to these recent floods.”
“We’ve been through this scenario a lot, especially recently. We know the drill and we’ll get it all fixed back as quick as we can,” said Ellison.
Polk County Sheriffs Deputies and Hatfield Volunteer Fire Department rescued one person after their vehicle was swept away by floodwaters on a county road. As always, during heavy rains and floods there is no way to tell if the road or bridge is still intact, remember to turn around, don’t drowned.