Storms, high water re-wreck recently fixed low-water crossings
Exactly two years after torrential rain and an historic flood wreaked havoc on many Ozark County low-water crossings, and just after the county had caught up on repairing many of those low-water slabs and washed-out roads, storms rolled through the region again last week, delivering heavy rains and high water that re-wrecked or eroded crossings that were recently repaired.
MoDOT said all state roads in the county had reopened by Monday afternoon, but some county roads and crossings remain closed.
Rain fell almost every day last week, and, according to the National Weather Service office in Springfield, on Tuesday, April 30, 28 tornadoes, ranging from EF-0 to EF-2, were confirmed in southern Missouri. The worst damage occurred when an EF-2 tornado tore a 5-mile path from Ozark to Rogersville. NWS said “numerous homes were heavily damaged and a few were destroyed. ... and hundreds of trees were uprooted.”
Closer to home, NWS confirmed that an EF-1 tornado, with peak winds of 107 mph struck near Squires, causing some damage but no injuries. Another EF-1 tornado was confirmed on the Taney-Ozark County line west of Theodosia. The weather service said the tornado touched down 4 miles northeast of Protem at 3:50 p.m. Tuesday and was on the ground for approximately eight minutes before lifting 5 miles northwest of Theodosia. “Numerous trees were down. One outbuilding was destroyed,” according to the NWS. (The website weather.gov/sgf/ lists the April 30 tornadoes. Click on “News Headlines” to see the link to the April 30 storms.)
After the tornadoes, rain continued to fall daily through the rest of the week.
Dora MoDOT shed supervisor Shawn Shipley said rising water covered the Highway 181 bridge at Hodgson Mill and the Patrick Bridge on H Highway twice between Thursday and Sunday. “It rose and fell and rose and fell,” Shipley said. MoDOT had to bring in a big excavator from Poplar Bluff to clear the huge pile of debris that blocked the Highway 181 bridge at Hodgson Mill, he said.
Gainesville MoDOT shed supervisor Rodney Yost said his crews hauled in “45 tons of rock” to repair damage to the Highway 95 bridge over the Bryant west of Dora.
Meanwhile, county commissioners said Monday at their weekly meeting it’s going to be a while before some county crossings are back to normal.
Eastern District Commissioner Gary Collins said Warren Bridge over the Bryant on County Road 328 will be closed indefinitely as crews try to find a way to make the east-side bridge approach more durable in high water. Tyler Trantham, Missouri Department of Conservation area manager, said the MDC access at Warren Bridge is also closed and “it is not advised” to use the area for taking canoes out of the stream.
“Road closed” signs are posted, Collins said, and crews on Monday morning placed concrete barriers across the road to prevent motorists from trying to cross the bridge. This week’s sheriff’s report (see page 8) lists two incidents when drivers became stranded or stuck at Warren Bridge: at 9:52 p.m. Sunday, and at 4:14 a.m. Monday.
Collins expressed frustration with environmental regulations that prevented the county from pouring concrete over the “rip rap” the county crews had placed along the road to stabilize the bank after the 2017 flood. “It makes the county look bad because it washed right back out,” Collins said.
Also, said Collins, water from Norfork Lake is starting to back up over County Road 551, known locally as Smokey Road, near Tecumseh. That road will probably be closed soon if Norfork Lake continues to rise.
On the west side of the county, County Road 863 will probably remain closed at Haskins Ford “at least until the Fourth of July” due to the backed-up water of Bull Shoals Lake, said Western District Commissioner Greg Donley, unless “a significant amount of water is released” from Bull Shoals Dam in Arkansas.
Donley added that County Road 614 near Pontiac is also closed at Gooley Creek due to the high lake level, and he said County Road 639 at Turkey Creek west of Theodosia will be closed shortly.