Staff writer/ News editor
Rainfall averages of 2-3 inches across the county have soaked fields and roads and swelled lakes, ponds, and streams, with more rain predicted this week.
In less than 24-hours, the South Cottonwood River level near Florence rose almost 20-feet cresting at 23.06 feet as of 11 a.m. Sunday, which was 1.06 feet above the flood stage.
Despite what appeared to be a somewhat startling jump in statistics, Florence Mayor Bob Gayle said the fluctuation was actually minor for the area.
However, he understood some residents might have been startled by the rise in river.
“It was exiting for a little while, but no one drowned and we didn’t need any rowboats,” he quipped.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the river’s crest receded to 4.86 feet.
However, some of Florence’s streets temporarily became waterways. Rushing water flowed down into the valley from the hill and could not properly drain because of some blocked culverts.
“I think some were taken off guard because it’s been dry for so many years,” Gayle said. “There was a half-block that was backed up pretty bad. It was nothing unusual for me — I grew up here. In a little town everyone pitches in and grabs a shovel.”
The moisture has affected dirt, gravel, and some paved roads throughout the county.
“We’ve got some roads shut down around Burns, and we had to shut down Nighthawk Saturday night because of rainfall,” Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford said Tuesday. “There have been a lot of calls and complaints, and a lot of washouts.”
He said assistant road supervisor Jessie Hamm had 50 phone calls within a four-hour period.
“It’s saturated now,” Crawford said. “What’s bad now, might be even worse by the end of the week. We’re going to do the best we can, but we have asphalt season coming up, too.”
County extension agent Rickey Roberts said he has noticed more rainfall in the southern part of the county near Florence and Peabody. He said the weather has been good for crops, especially wheat.
“I like our wheat crop now it’s a much better ‘tune’ than what we were singing in March, and it’s drastically improved over the last month,” he said. “Wheat doesn’t require a lot of moisture, but its loves the cool weather we’ve been getting.”
Conversely, the cool wet weather is also ideal for disease, but he said recent spraying should help.
“If disease doesn’t hammer us, the weather has done us a lot of good as long as we can get some sun so the wheat can dry down,” he said.
Emergency management director Randy Frank urges residents to be cautious of flood and flash flood conditions.
“If the road is covered in water or moving water, people should not go through it,” Frank said. “They should turn around and stay out of flood waters. There is more potential for potential hazards like floating trees and debris as well.”
The soggy story continued Tuesday and likely will stretch into the future with more rainfall in the county’s extended forecast.