AP NEWS

Some flooding reported in area

March 19, 2019

It seemed Friday at least, that parts of Dodge County were worse off than some perpetually flood-prone portions of Jefferson County in terms of high water.

High water and flooding issues kept Dodge County Emergency Management Director Amy Nehls busy Friday morning.

“We are currently working on some evacuations,” Nehls said.

She said the hardest hit areas midday Friday were the town of Elba and the city of Columbus, because of the high water rising from the Crawfish River.

Dodge County Highway Commissioner Brian Field said the bridge at state Highways 16 and 60 is closed because of the high water. He said traffic is being detoured from that area through Dodge County on state Highways 26 and 33 to state Highway 151.

“The high water is threatening some areas up there,” Field said. “As the water continues to rise it is only going to get worse.”

He said there were several highways closed Thursday, but only a few isolated areas remained closed to traffic Friday.

“Right now, we’re restoring some shoulders damaged due to rapid snowmelt,” Field said.

He also said his department’s staff will keep their eyes on the river systems north of Dodge County as the flow makes it way south.

“The forecast for the weekend calls for dry weather,” he said. “If it remains dry we should be in pretty good shape in Dodge County, but that’s up to Mother Nature.”

Electric power will be shut down on Campbell Street in the city of Columbus because of the high water.

Residents who live on Campbell and Baden streets, Chisholm and River roads were urged to evacuate as the Crawfish River was expected to continue to rise over the next couple of days.

Columbus City Administrator Patrick Vander Sanden said failure to evacuate will make it impassable for emergency response to reach people in an emergency.

“If you evacuate, please remember to bring your medications, pets, money and important information, and cell phones and their chargers,” he said.

Displaced residents who need shelter are encouraged to go the Columbus Community Building, 161 N. Dickason Blvd. He said displaced residents who have pets can take them to the Columbus Fireman’s Park Pavilion, 1049 Park Ave.

The city is continuing sandbagging operations at the Old Countryside Ford building at 1149 W. James St. Residents who need sandbags may pick them up at this location.

According to Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Donna Haugom, her county was not as bad in terms of flooding as a person might think following several days of rain combined with quick snowmelt.

“We are doing pretty well,” Haugom said. “We had a few residents looking for bags and sand yesterday, but we are holding our own right now.”

Haugom said there have been a couple of ice dams on county rivers, but there is really nothing that can be done about those.

“About all we can do is track them back upstream and watch for flooding there,” she said.

Haugom and her colleagues met with representatives of the National Weather Service Friday morning and were informed the county should be experiencing about a two-week stretch of fairly dry weather, which could allow river levels to recede.

The NWS said the snow pack is already gone for the most part, but there is still some snow around that needs to melt.

“Water levels are high and some roads in the county are closed,” Haugom said. “It’s the normal stuff we’d experience with high water this time of year, but the NWS said river levels should be going down soon. We are doing OK, but we don’t know what the rest of the spring will bring us.”

Haugom said although the next two weeks look fairly nice in terms of weather and the ground should thaw a little more, she urges people to remain alert in terms of potentially rising river and creek levels.

“I want people to keep an eye out and be prepared,” she said. “They should have sandbags available -- know where they are. They should know where they can get them -- better early than late.”