Roaring River recovers from flooding
No injuries reported; property damage significant
Heavy rains on April 27 led to some high waters and hairy moments at Roaring River State Park, as flooding shut down camping through the weekend and cleanup is still being completed.
Flash flood waters forced evacuations and damaged a significant amount of property, especially at Paradise Valley Resort. Water rescue crews were on standby at the park at about 9:30 a.m. and for a few hours, especially in the Dry Hollow area in between the Park Office and the Park Store.
State Park staff had evacuated all three of the Parks’ campgrounds, but about 100
people in the Paradise Valley Resort RV park were trapped on high ground, surrounded by flood waters coming from the south and east. Waters eventually receded enough that everyone was able to evacuate without incident.
While no people were injured in the day’s events, property was not as lucky. Multiple vehicles and RVs were floated by the fast-moving water. Significant flash flooding struck within the span of 10-20 minutes in some areas of the park, preventing campers from moving vehicles.
According to the U.S. Geological Service gauge at the park, water was at 1 foot at 8 a.m., was at 7 feet by 9 a.m. and peaked at 9.84 feet at 10 a.m. It dropped to 8.64 feet at 11 a.m. and 5.45 feet by 1:30 p.m.
A second wave of rains overnight spiked the gauge again to 4.11 feet at 1:15 a.m. on April 29.
The peak may be a new record, as the last flood at Roaring River similar to this one, in April 29, 2017, saw the gauge hit 9.82 feet.
Flood stage at the park is 5 feet, but once above 3 feet, low-water bridges may be impacted. At its peak, waters were considered moderate flood stage. Approximately 2 inches of rain fell in Barry County between 7-10 a.m., and more than 4 inches total had fallen, possibly more in some localities, in the 12-hour period leading up to the highest gauge level. A reported 5.2 inches fell in Seligman.
Highway 112 was closed both ways going through the park during the height of the flooding.
Joel Topham, Roaring River State Park manager, said as of Monday, Campground 1 had been reopened, and Campground 3 was set to reopen, as well.
“We are still shooting to reopen Campground 2 on Thursday, but we are playing that by ear,” he said. “Campground 2 was hit the heaviest with the silt and mud, whereas Campground 3 was hit heaviest with rock. We have Bobcats and backhoes out the scraping off the top layer of silt and mud and taking it to our dump pile to dry.”
Topham said the delay on reopening Campground 2 is rooted in the electrical boxes, 39 of them, which all have to be inspected and cleaned.
“We are in the painstaking process of going through each electrical pedestal and cleaning them,” he said. “That’s one thing that helped us in Campground 1, that the water did not get up over the pedestals. But all 39 in Campground 2, some of them the new 50-amp boxes, were submerged.”
Topham said once all the work is done, a dollar amount will be placed on the damage. He did not have an estimate for that amount as of Monday.
Three volunteers helped the Park staff Saturday with raking, collecting debris and moving rocks. Topham said there is still a significant amount of debris from the hatchery to the first low water crossing bride.
“It was definitely a doozy of a flood,” he said.
Paul Spurgeon, Roaring River Hatchery manager, said things were rough for a couple days at the facility, but it wasn’t the worst flood he has seen.
“We had our usual damage to the roads, stream and hatchery grounds,” he said. “The water came up fast enough it was the highest I’ve seen it, even getting over some of our empty runs. We have excavators and Bobcats coming in to rebuild the stocking roads and get things back to where it’s safe to walk on.”
Spurgeon said despite the height of the water, no fish were lost.
“We didn’t lose any from our runs,” he said. “Usually during floods, fish in the stream stay at the bottoms of the pools, but it can mix them around a bit and wash them into fields or downstream. It makes for an interesting couple days.