Heavy rains cause the Blue River at Milltown to reach the floor of the bridge Wednesday. The town began evacuating people early that morning. (Photo by Chris Adams)
Heavy rains bring major flooding, headaches
Crawford commissioners declare state of emergency
March 19, 2008 At a storm spotter seminar in English last Wednesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Callahan mentioned that "next Tuesday, you folks could be having some major weather problems." One week later, few can deny how accurate he was.
The rain started on Tuesday and just kept coming. The ground was already saturated from a foot of snow that melted just days earlier, and the local creeks and rivers began to swell quickly.
By early Wednesday morning, several homes were being evacuated in Milltown as the Blue River came out of its banks. The one-lane bridge there became impassable as water surrounded it, and one entrance to the bridge was covered by the flood waters. At 10:30 a.m. Milltown officials declared a state of emergency. By 4 p.m., the floor of the bridge was almost under water.
The curved bridge on North Milltown Road, which had been closed several days ago for repairs, was opened for emergency traffic only. All other traffic in and out of Milltown had to be routed to Speed Road.
"The commissioners decided to open the curved bridge to emergency traffic around 8:30 this morning," Crawford County Highway Superintendent Lee Holzbog said. "But only one lane, on the high side, should be used. Everything else has to use Speed Road now.
"If Speed Road were to flood, there would probably be no choice, but to open the bridge for regular traffic, also. I'm sure it would be limited to one lane. But that's a call the commissioners would have to make."
At 2:25 p.m. the Crawford County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency for the county.
"That doesn't mean that everyone should stay off the roads," Crawford County Emergency Management Agency Director Kent Barrow said. "But it means that people should exercise caution and be aware of areas that could be flooded. We advise everyone not to drive through high water."
U.S. 150 was closed at Fredericksburg and most houses near the Blue River there were inundated by Wednesday morning. According to some sources, the river crested at Fredericksburg around 3 p.m.