Clark Mountain Musings

Friday, November 18, 2005

Flooding Causes Problems in Piedmont
(Home of Clark Mountain Musings)
13 Families Evacuated, Schools Closed, Roads Flooded

Wayne County Journal-Banner
Thursday, November 17 2005

For weeks, area residents have complained about the lack of rain. Monday night, Wayne County re­ceived more rain than it could handle. According to the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., parts of the county received over 10 inches of rain. The majority of Wayne County got five to eight inches. It started to rain late Mon­day morning. The downpour con­tinued throughout the day and night and into Tuesday.
"This situation reminded us of the flood of 1982,*' said Mayor Gaylon Watson. "The water rose so quickly. We received the ma­jority of the rain within a four to five hour time frame. When we have flooding, it always seems to happen in the dark."
The torrential downpour caused area streams to overflow their banks. Roads were flooded. Many residents in the Piedmont area were forced from their homes in the middle of the night when McKenzie Creek overflowed its banks. Classes at Clearwater R-l School were cancelled Tuesday. Rep. Rod Jetton's Transportation Summit, which was to be held Tuesday evening in Fredericktown, was cancelled due to flooding in the area.
"It was a long night," said Piedmont Police Chief Richard Sanders. "I began watching McKenzie Creek at 2 a.m. We
started our first series of evacua­tions around 3 a.m. Our first prob­lem area was East Fir and First Street."
Mayor Watson said that city officials were in constant contact throughout the night. Officer Alien Berner called Watson every 30 minutes updating him on the situation within the city.
Hardest hit was Faith Family Worship Center on Fir Street. The church had about three feet of flood water inside the building. The sanctuary, fellowship hall, and offices all sustained water damage.
Members of the congregation gathered at the church late Tues­day morning to begin the cleanup effort. Workers loaded metal fold­ing chairs into the back of a pickup. They were taken to a lo­cal car wash where the mud was hosed away.
"We can't do a lot until the (in­surance) adjuster gets here," said Rev. Wayne Street.
A large wooden storage shed that sat adjacent to the church was washed into the stream. The build­ing became lodged on the Elm Street bridge.
"We will wait till the water subsides and try to wench the building out of the stream," said one member of the congregation. "We believe we can salvage it."
Water lapped at the doors of Turnbough Building Supply. All entrances to the business were sandbagged. According to Chief Sanders, at the height of flooding, water was 16 inches up on the store's front door.
"Some water seeped through the bags and into the building," Sanders said. "It wasn't much. They were able to suck it up with a shop vac and open for business as usual."
Workers with the Piedmont Police Department, Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center's ambu­lance service, and Piedmont fire­men evacuated residents. Harvest Baptist Church and the Wayne County Community Building were opened to serve as shelters*
"We evacuated the family across from the (Faith Family) church," Sanders explained. "Four other families in the (Fir and First streets) area evacuated on their own. After we finished there, we moved to Montgomery Subdivision. There was flooding in some areas there. We eyacu-ated people from three places there. Five families left on their own. The rest of the Montgom­ery Subdivision residents decided to stay in their homes."
The evacuation efforts were not limited to just people. Fear­ing that vehicles would flood, of­ficers moved the vehicles at Jerry Campbell's used car lot.
According to Sanders, flood waters topped all three of the city's bridges. The only bridge within the city limits that re­mained free of flood water was the state's bridge on Highway 34 near Reyes Minit Mart. '
McKenzie Creek jumped its banks near Tex Barnes Insurance Agency. According to Chief Sanders, the flood waters ran down a closed alley that runs par­allel to Main Street.
"We know that McKenzie Creek will flood again," Watson said. "It isn't a matter of if but,
rather, a matter of when. We're very lucky. The damage we re­ceived this time was minimal compared to what it could have been. I believe this is because of the city's flood buyout program. We've purchased 109 homes and three businesses that were located in the flood plain. This shows that the program works. Damage throughout the city was limited to only a few places."
The city also sustained dam­age to various streets and facili­ties. Mayor Watson said it would take about a month to clean up from the flooding. He said the cleanup process will be costly.
"Nothing major was broken," Watson said. "It is a combination of small things. We have streets and curbs that will have to be re­paired."
Western District Commis­sioner Bud Snyder said that many county roads sustained substan­tial damage. The force of the wa­ter washed large ditches across many roads. Culvert pipes were unearthed. A few roads were im­passable by two-wheel drive ve­hicles.
Highway 34 east of Patterson near the St. Francis River was closed for a few hours due to the rising flood waters. High water also closed Highway N in Patterson for a short period of time.
Clearwater R-l Superinten­dent Blane Keel said that school was closed for two reasons, flooded roads and a water prob­lem at the middle school. Leaves and debris clogged a drain near the middle school, causing a half inch of water to back up to the school's doorway. Classes re­opened Wednesday morning; buses ran blacktop roads only.

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