Bob Mitchell: 'Toad strangler' hits Cassville

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Perhaps using the term "toad strangler" in reference to recent rainfalls wasn't out of line, since last week truly brought that type rainfall to the Cassville area -- so much so that the south part of town was flooded to an extent not experienced in years.

One thing the flooding achieved was catching the eye of major media, which even flew over with their helicopters for aerial overviews of the widespread waters.

Cassville was spared flooding waters from the west, as Hawk Branch and Little Troublesome stayed in their banks. Western areas apparently didn't receive the onslaught of water that Cassville proper and areas south received.

Amounts reported

It was somewhat difficult to authenticate actual downpours, as most gauges hold only five inches of water. These were full and overflowing. Some reports, however, measured 6.5 inches, and some even were reporting 8.5 inches Monday night and Tuesday morning. Those totals were credited with pushing both Flat Creek and Horner Branch to spread all over the south part of town.

Water coverage was from the Arvest parking lot to just west of Mercy Hospital, out Highway 112 and that business area and included Highway 248 to the Able 2 Products area. Access to east Cassville via 13th Street was also blocked past the Flat Creek bridge.

Agencies acted

Emergency services were all in action, making several rescues from business locations that had the sudden rise of waters that covered their entrances. Every vehicle with a flashing light was utilized in stopping vehicles from entering the high water. Workers from MoDOT placed signs at several locations to keep traffic from causing waves that did more to put water into low-lying business locations.

Drying out processes resulted in some of those involved in high water not being open for business the next morning, even after all the streams carrying the flood waters had receded back into their channels. This was possibly because many of those involved, or living in low-lying areas, were experienced with past floods, there were no injuries reported in the immediate area.

Roaring River closed

Camping units that were not removed from campgrounds in Roaring River State Park were swept from their locations by waters from Roaring River Hollow, the Park Spring and Dry Hollow. These three sources poured water throughout the park, causing damage to some areas, but resulting in no reported injuries. The park was closed Tuesday of last week as water went over the Highway 112 bridge over Dry Hollow just above the junction with Roaring River.

Here again, experience with past floods and the anticipation of heavy rainfall led to personal injuries being eliminated.

Not cloudburst

Rainfall amounts recorded in the area had to be a "toad strangler" type, and not a cloudburst. The difference, as has always been the theory here in the Ozarks, a cloudburst results when a cloud of rain arrives over the area and stays there for sometime.

In last week's instance, the rains went through here and progressed on to other areas to the east and south in flooding out of hollows, through creeks and the lower areas of Flat Creek.

Regardless of what name might be attached to the storm, Mother Nature outdid herself in providing moisture to an already water-soaked earth.

Rescue equipment

At the highest point of the water, reaching the stop light area at Fifth Street, a unit of the Missouri Highway Patrol brought a water rescue vessel to the area if it was to be required. A heavy tanker unit of the Cassville Fire Protection District was also available and entered some high water areas to get people out of business buildings threatened by the waters. Although not designed for this purpose, the truck proved to be quite useful in this instance.

Storm sewer

The storm sewer installed years ago in that particular area by the Missouri Highway Department was either overwhelmed by the flow of water or years in accumulation of debris in the underground installations has been speculated as a problem. City officials will apparently address this possibility, or at least should, in the near future.

Previous Flat Creek floods have been handled by the storm facility.

Back to 1984

Some were comparing this incident of high water to a similar weather happening in 1984 when Horner Branch really went on a rampage. At this time, there was a propane business located just off Highway 248 that was in the way of the flood. Also across the highway a lumberyard existed.

Between debris from the two, facilities at the city ballpark were rim-racked, resulting in thousands of dollars of repairs required. These facilities were also completely flooded in this instance but debris was apparently at a minimum.

Whatever the level achieved by this flood was, it failed to reach the 100-year markings of the Federal Flood Insurance proposals that were established of several years ago.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.