Many area counties received flood damage in the April 10 downpour and Izard County, still nursing a black eye from a recent tornado and previous flooding, was no exception.
"It has been wild," Izard County Judge Rayburn Finley said. "I don't know if there is really a word out there for it. Every road in the county is damaged and washed out. There just isn't a road that doesn't have damage done to it. You can go to just about any part of the county and find damage. We have it all over; there is no particular spot that you can say is not affected," Finley said."
According to Finley there are more then 1,300 miles of Izard County roads and an untold number of culverts. The damage estimate is approaching $2.5 million or more.
To tackle the task at hand, the county has a total of six road graders to cover all districts. "This is barely enough in normal times," he said. Finley expressed his desire for a grader and said that would allow for proper road maintenance.
Finley said that FEMA was in the county to deal with the March 17-18 flood and should be returning to Izard County soon, although an exact date has not been announced.
"They assess the damage and do document work on it to see what we can get funded and what we can't," he said.
"We wasn't done with the last one and we have had two more since then. We were making some headway with the first flood, low and behold, here came the second one and again the third," Finley said. "We are getting it; it's taking care of Charles Willett up there in Fulton County too."
Bridges across the county seem to be intact although there is damage where the bridge meets the earth in many places. Finley said there are several spots where culverts have completely washed away.
"The thing about it is, what rain that did fall, fell so quickly. It caused the water to just come up so fast," Finley said.
According to Finley the Strawberry River near Myron rose higher then the March 17-18 flood.
Although there were rescue calls, Finley said there were no fatalities with people trying to cross dangerous high water. "Most people, you might say, people know they can't get through a place and they don't try it anymore. I was out until 8 p.m. closing roads last night (April 10)," he said.
Currently, Izard County has not received funds for extra equipment or manpower.
"Although, the equipment can't be everywhere at once, we are first addressing those areas having the greatest need. We plan to meet those needs as soon as humanly possible," he said.
Finley said the county will continue to work until things are brought back to normal. "If there is additional assistance we can provide, feel free to let us know," he said. The Izard County Judges Office can be contacted at 870-368-4328 or at the courthouse in Melbourne.
"We need patience on the county roads, we are working 12-14 hours a day right now. A great deal has been done and much remains to be done," Finley said.
On April 11, Finley released the following update: The citizens of Izard County have endured a great deal these past few months starting with massive fires in different areas of the county, followed by a devastating tornado and then three floods.
Lives, homes and possessions have been lost, but fortunately friends and families have chipped in to help. Churches and other organizations have stepped forward with a great deal of assistance as well.
The federal government, state government and county government resources have been utilized to assist in our needs as well as the American Red Cross and other groups dedicated to providing much needed assistance. I commend the people of our county in reaching out to those in need. The effort is still continuing by local and out-of-county folks.
We are most fortunate to live in such a place as Izard County where everyone pulls together in a most loving and caring way.
A great deal has been done and much remains to be done. Just as we were about to get a handle on the immediate needs following the tornado, which affected many, we were then faced with the first flooding as we were making some headway with the first flood, low and behold, here came the second one and again the third. I just hope a number four is not in our immediate future.
Even though we have accomplished much, there is still a lot to do. There are more then 1,300 miles of county roads in Izard County and untold numbers of culverts. It seems every mile was affected some way or the other.
There are road improvement needs throughout the county. I would estimate the damage of the county roads to be approaching $2.5 million or more. Our county is divided into nine districts and we have six graders to cover all the districts. This is barely enough in normal times and significantly inefficient in emergency times such as these.
I realize in a small county such as ours it would be difficult to have a grader for each of the nine districts, but that number of graders would allow for proper road maintenance.
In addition to everything else, I am directing total resources toward the county road system and I'm striving to get these roads back into the best possible shape.
The Izard County road crew has been working on extended schedules, up to 12 hours a day and I havve pulled in additional road equipment. As well as all mechanical equipment working extended hours, equipment maintenance sometimes suffers so I have directed maximum effort towards keeping the equipment functional and operational.
I have reorganized the road department somewhat, in order to gain additional efficiencies. It's the same challenge we always face in trying times and that is, we have almost unlimited needs in these extreme times with very limited resources.
Although, the equipment and manpower can't be everywhere at once, we are first addressing those areas having the greatest need. We plan to meet everyone's road needs as soon as humanly possible. Should there be an area that we may have overlooked, I encourage you contact my office.