Written by Jerry Engler Wednesday, 30 April 2008 05:52
The northern half of Marion County endured a crushing storm of rain and hail Wednesday, April 23, that led to sand bagging in Durham, a huge set-back to the county’s road program, and a 3.5-foot rise in the level of Marion Reservoir.
Rain amounts were reported up to 6 inches across a wide area, with especially high concentrations along the North Cottonwood River.
Glennon Crowther, mayor of Durham, said the fire department crew led volunteers at placing sand bags in front of businesses on Main Street to protect them from the North Cottonwood’s waters.
He said the volunteers reported river water over the tops of their boots at Main Street Cafe while at G&R Implement Co. further south it was reported at 18 inches deep.
The cafe suffered most of the significant damage in town with water seeping through the north wall cement-block construction in what used to be the town library. The south part of the building was undamaged, and will be used to keep the business open while the north half is repaired, Crowther said.
Some drywall and carpet will need to be replaced in the north half, he said.
“It was the Cottonwood from west of town that did it,” Crowther said. “The farmers west of town were reporting 5.5 to 6 inches of rain. Here in town we were at 4.5. We’re lucky the tributary streams from Roxbury south to Canton didn’t get it like that because that all comes through here.
“We started sandbagging from 4:30 to 5 p.m., and got done by 6 p.m. or a little after,” he added. “The Cottonwood River was in town coming down Main Street by 7 p.m.
“We had a high loader from the grain elevator in here helping us load the sand bags back up this morning (Monday). We’ll save them through this summer, but they’ll rot, and not be worth anything after that.”
He said the last time the town had to sandbag was 10 years ago.
Some farmers from west of Durham said they had never seen the Cottonwood as high.
Irvin Christiansen, 93, said he has seen it higher twice in his life, most notably during the regional flooding of 1951.
“I’d say it was about 4 feet higher in ’51,” he said. “It was over the low-water bridge this time, but in ’51 it was another hundred feet up the hill.”
John Fredrickson, who does maintenance at Marion Reservoir, said debris from the water rise settled on some camping areas, but no real damage occurred with the elevated pool.
John Summerville, acting Marion County road and bridge director, said the storm caused a major setback for his department at a time when high fuel and material costs are causing a struggle to maintain county roads.
“It seemed like we were just catching up,” he said. “Now this happens, and we’re all backed up again. Every section of road north of Highway 256, old Highway 56, has at least some damage. There’s lots of culvert damage.
“There are places where the water was 6 feet deep or deeper over the roads. It’s amazing how much water there was. It was jumping the roads. The ditches couldn’t hold it all.
“It wasn’t just on streams,” he added. “In many cases there would just be a wash out of a pasture where the water would come deep across the road.
“Of course, everywhere water washed, it took the rock off the road into the ditches or out in the fields. There’s no cost-effective way to recover it. We have the rock trucks out there just patching up.”
In Marion, City Clerk Angela Lange said the rain was much lighter, and the city hasn’t had reports of damage.
Marion County Emergency Management Director Michelle Abbott-Becker said that except for the sandbagging in Durham and reports of road damage from road and bridge, her department didn’t have any other reports of damage.
In Hillsboro, 4.96 inches of rain were reported and a period of hail left yards and streets mostly white. The hail caused scattered roof damage. Todd Jost of Jost Welding said his tar roof may be totaled, pending an insurer’s report. Four of six panes of glass in his skylight were broken.