Two big bridges have been rebuilt, but 2017 flood damage still exists elsewhere
Almost every bridge and low-water creek-crossing slab in Ozark County was badly damaged or destroyed by the historic flood of April 29-30, 2017, but the most dramatic public impact may have been the collapse of two of the highest bridges over the North Fork of the White River. Long-time Ozark County residents were incredulous when the James Bridge on PP Highway near Dawt and the Irwin C. Cudworth Bridge on CC Highway southeast of Dora were washed away.
And almost equally amazing to many observers was the quick work by the Missouri Department of Transportation and Kansas City-based contractor Clarkson Construction in redesigning and rebuilding those two big bridges.
MoDOT signed contracts totaling more than $5.4 million for the two projects on June 29, 2017, and Clarkson crews were in Ozark County a few days later to start rebuilding. When they estimated the rebuilt bridges would be completed in October, less than four months later, skeptical residents, like true Missourians, couldn’t help but doubt the predictions.
But it happened: the new Cudworth bridge on CC Highway reopened on Oct. 4, 2017, and the new James Bridge on PP Highway reopened a week later, on Oct. 11.
While those two bridges are complete and functioning well, several other Ozark County roads, bridges and low-water slabs, while open, still show the damage caused more than a year ago. Meanwhile, the county commissioners continue to work with FEMA to procure funds to restore and improve the damaged county roads and creek crossings. But the process is slow-going. Western district commissioner Greg Donley told the Times recently he has “worked seven disasters” since first being elected as commissioner, “and this has been the most complicated as far as getting the right paperwork to [federal authorities].”