Bob Mitchell: Did God forget flooding promise?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

After experiencing back-to-back flooding in the county, there were some who were wondering if God had forgotten his statement in Noah’s days that the world would not be destroyed by another flood.

Then there was the story told by Bob Gaddis, pastor of Shell Knob First Baptist Church, about calling one member of his congregation and asking him to look out the window “to see if the animals were lining up in pairs!”

These expressions were typical of those heard the last of April when record rainfalls fell throughout Barry County. The measurements were many, one reported in the Exeter community at 20 inches. Generally, five-inch home gauges were overflowing during some of the downpours with 3.6 to 4 inches emptied when the sky cleared.

Flat Creek muddied

Cassville got a double dose of Flat Creek experiencing high waters during the torrential rains over a two-day period. Undoubtedly, gravel removal previous to the heavy rains and some bank stabilization of the same period lessened the disaster levels of previous floods. That’s not to say that low-lying areas of town didn’t experience high water, but the past extremes were missing.

Locations closer to the creek at least had basements of water to be removed and Fair Street residences were evacuated once again during the high water.

Blackberry storm?

After an Easter rain had predicted six more Sundays of moisture, old timers were touting most recent stormy weather as the blackberry winter or storm, supposedly the final outburst of bad weather for the early spring. They were basing this assumption on the fact of some blooms being sighted on blackberry bushes.

With the heavy rains came some instances of high winds that rushed through the area, resulting in downed trees throughout the county. Some communities of Table Rock were hit especially hard, residences and boat docks recording damage from the apparent straight-line winds that accompanied some of the early morning storms.

A number of area roads closed for a considerable length of time. Timely actions by highway crews resulted in no injuries or fatalities being reported from persons driving into high, swift waters.

Highway 78 southeast of Cassville was closed due to Horner Branch flooding, and Highway 248 in Cassville’s was closed at the east city limits.

Table Rock jumped

Reservoir readings on Table Rock Lake, which had dropped to a 907 level, which was a drought condition low at one time, climbed to near the 933 mark, which necessitated opening flood gates at the dam to relieve upstream conditions, but causing flooding areas around Branson bordering Lake Taneycomo.

Army Corps of Engineer personnel were monitoring the situation daily during the extended periods of rainfall.

Early gardens hit

Those who were into early gardening were anxious for sunshine and drying out periods to learn what the heavy downpours had done to their plantings. Robert Moore of Butterfield was one of these, speculating he didn’t really know what the condition of his tomato plants might be, “I’ll just wait and see if replanting will be necessary,” he stated.

Also damaged were some structures that had trees down on them during high wind periods. The David Cole home and our outbuilding both had structural damage from large trees being uprooted.

Tree removal people reckoned the saturated condition of the ground, combined with the high winds to tip over the trees instead of breaking them at the top.

City expenditures

Steve Walensky, Cassville city administrator, viewing Flat Creek work on May 1, said $50,000 in equipment cost and labor expenses had been spent on Flat Creek dredging, etc., during fiscal 2016. He also noted Cassville’s budget for 2017 had room for additional projects this year. What these might be were under consideration after consulting with state and national emergency officials.

It remains quite evident that past expenditures were helpful in relieving conditions in recent storms, but they did deposit extensive gravel deposits in the same areas around city highway bridges that would possibly need removing.

Roaring River damage

Stream work at Roaring River State Park had machinery and crews from the Department of Natural Resources on station to remove record debris from Roaring River hollow through the length of the park.

Officials stated they would have to wait until waters went to lower levels before they could assess any damage that might be received at fishing baffles throughout the stream. Lower levels of the fly-only area were closed for safety reasons while upper stream areas were being repaired. Dry Hollow flooded the highway bridge closing the route to traffic.

Television coverage during the flooding showed the most ardent of trout fishermen trying their luck in the muddy Roaring River waters.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat, and a 2017 inductee into Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.