By Jonathan Pleasant
Wild weather last week became a very serious issue for residents in several parts of Johnson County as a steady downpour quickly swelled many already overly saturated streams and creeks. Approximately 15 roads were closed by the county highway department due to high water, with several of those sustaining damage. A large washout on Cobb Creek Road has caused it to remain impassable even after the waters receded.
Residents in several areas, particularly in Doeville, Doe Valley, and Laurel Bloomery, reported flooded basements and minor water damage. One of the worst cases happened near the Old Mill Music Park, at the home of Jackie Warden. Its just unreal, Warden said. Its like I had a river in my front yard. I had 37 inches of water in my basement the first night.
Several houses in Wardens neighborhood were flooded as Laurel Creek burst through a bank reinforcement project put in during the 1970s. With water rushing through a huge hole in the rock wall meant to turn back the creek, the flood cut its way around houses, turning them into islands in the newfound stream. Tearing up pavement and cutting gullies along the way, the water eventually found its way back into the creek after making its way through the park.
Other areas were hit hard as well, including a massive overflow at the end of Dugger Hollow Road, near the newly constructed Highway 67 bridge in Doeville, and another on Claude Matherly Road where it intersects with Sink Valley in Butler. Both Doe and Roan Creeks swelled enormously, flooding at least a half dozen houses. One mobile home along Doe Creek was severely inundated as debris blocked a nearby bridge, while Roan Creek threatened to jump its banks into Highway 167.
During the worst of the flooding on Tuesday night, Johnson County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) was extremely busy answering calls and directing help to where it was needed. We were constantly monitoring the situation, said EMA director Jason Blevins. We had deputies all over the county checking for water coming up around peoples houses to see if anyone needed to be evacuated.
Some of the worst situations came from motorists attempting to navigate flooded roadways. Aside from the potential of being swept away by the swift moving waters, there can be even more dangerous situations, as in the case of Cobb Creek Road, where there may no longer be a solid road surface. Even state roads like Highway 91, which had six inches of water in one location, were difficult or impossible to cross at times.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.
By Jonathan Pleasant