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Heavy rains wreak havoc Cherokee County Roads

Heavy rains wreak havoc Cherokee County Roads

This article first appeared in the Talequah Daily Press.

By BOB GIBBINS
Press Staff Writer

May 04, 2009 10:22 am

Parts of northern Cherokee County were under water Saturday, but the area may have escaped more substantial damage as rain chances diminished from previous forecasts.

The Illinois River was expected to rise to nearly 13 feet by this morning, according to Friday prognostications, but Saturday predictions showed the river staying just under 10 feet today. The downpour created major problems on the north end of the county Friday.

Heavy rain was forecast for Saturday and Saturday night, with thunderstorms being likely today, although the chance of those storms lessened Saturday. Forecasters indicated they were a sure thing Friday, but listed the chances of heavy rain Saturday at 80 percent and the chance of thunderstorms at 60 percent today.

District 1 Commissioner Doug Hubbard and his crews were back on the job Saturday morning, trying to make roads in that district passable.

Tin horns were becoming clogged with debris, and Hubbard said a bridge over Double Springs Creek at Teresita had to be closed Friday.


Adjustments were also made to bridges on Iron Post Road and some other locations due to washouts.

“Some of the people up here are saying they haven’t ever seen it this bad, and they’ve lived here for years,” Hubbard said.
The commissioner said the floodwaters have also damaged some work he and his crew did in the Littlefield Slab area after floods ravaged that area last year. “It’s [damage at Littlefield Slab] about the same as last year,” Hubbard said. “It’s kind of hard to tell.”

Tahlequah-Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Gary Dotson said the local EM office received several reports of vehicles being swept off in the rushing waters. One report was in the Norwood area, but most were confined to the northern sections of the county.

Lowrey Fire Chief Larry Watts was leading some rescue efforts by helping residents in his coverage area find higher ground until the water recedes.

Dotson said the Illinois River Fire Department and Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission both offered the services of their air boats, if needed.

The Tahlequah city limits escaped the brunt of Friday’s storm after being hit hard April 18 by floodwaters.

State officials closed State Highway 10 for a period of time Friday, but reopened it to traffic later in the day. Hubbard said all of the slabs in his district had water running over them.

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