Houston County commissioners tour flood damaged roads on Sunday with County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski (wearing vest) after three days of heavy rains. This is CSAH 12 west of Caledonia.
Houston County commissioners tour flood damaged roads on Sunday with County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski (wearing vest) after three days of heavy rains. This is CSAH 12 west of Caledonia.
"We have issues everywhere," Houston County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski told the county board on Sunday, June 23.

Commissioners called an emergency meeting, after heavy rains caused widespread flashflood damage to county roadways Saturday night and Sunday morning.

They voted to immediately authorize the county's Highway Department to "enter into emergency contracts for emergency repair of damaged and negatively impacted county roads and bridges without the requirement for solicitation of bids and advertising."

At 11 a.m. on Sunday, eight county roads were closed, and nine others listed as "damaged but passable."

In addition, four state highways reported significant damage, and township roads throughout the county were impaired, Pogodzinski stated.

"All of the townships have damage. Typically their roadways are not designed to handle as much as ours are."

"I started getting calls between 1 (a.m.) and 1:30," he noted. County staff began hitting the roads at 4 a.m., clearing mudslides and tree limbs washed onto highways, opening lanes for emergency vehicles, setting up barricades on unsafe sections, marking ditches that didn't exist the day before with cones, and doing whatever they could to mitigate the damage.

Some paved roads looked like accordions, buckled from washouts underneath the asphalt. Others were collapsing along their edges as deep gullies appeared along shoulders. The rain continued to fall, topping 10 inches over three days on soils that were already saturated.

County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 4 was closed at Farley Hill. CSAH 5 was shut down near New Albin. CSAH 10 was closed near Sheldon. CSAH 12 was barricaded off near CSAH 11. The entire length of CSAH 15 was closed. CSAH 22 was closed from State Trunk Highway (TH) 76 to TH 16.

Water overtopped the pavement on CSAH 27 between Spring Grove and Eitzen, carrying away parts of the road. "That's not going to be a cheap fix," Pogodzinski said.

CSAH 31 was shut down between CSAH 2 and CSAH 5.

CSAH 8 was listed as "damaged but passable" near Riceford. Other roads in the same category included CSAH routes 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 28 and County Road 249.

Pogodzinski said that longtime Engineering Assistant Doug Twite reported some structures being flooded that he'd never seen go under, even during the 2007 flood.

"It's been so much so quickly... the South Fork of the Root River overtopped State Highway 16."

State Highway 26 near New Albin sustained damages, as did a portion State Highway 16 east of Houston, which went under water. TH 76 south of Houston was reported as damaged, as was TH 43 between Mabel and Canton.

After Houston County reaches $430,000 in road damages, state disaster assistance becomes possible, Pogodzinski told the board.

"We're beyond that," he added. When asked to speculate on the total, or whether FEMA may become involved, Pogodzinski deferred. "It's just too early to tell," he said.

There were some bright spots. No bridges were washed out, Pogodzinski reported. Even though eight roads were still shut down at midday that was already down from a maximum of 11.

At the time of the meeting, a Monday night crest of 16.2 feet was predicted on the Root River at Houston. However more rain was predicted for Monday night and Tuesday causing the board to schedule another meeting for Tuesday.

Pogodzinski added that further rains could send that level higher. Minor flooding begins at 12.0 feet, he said.