Minor damage after storms

Published 10:38 am Monday, June 9, 2008

The Mower County Highway Department had sent four crews to assess damage to bridges and county highways after about a half-foot of rain fell over the course of Saturday and Sunday, leading to road closures concentrated mostly east of County Highway 7 and south of Interstate 90.

“I don’t know what or where or if,” said county engineer Mike Hanson, referring to possible damage caused by the storm. “So I guess it’s premature to comment.

“I think right now, as far as I know, the roads are open — the county roads,” he said, adding that he didn’t have status reports for township regions.

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According to Hanson, Highways 14 and 12 near LeRoy and Highways 22 and 5 near Lyle were underwater after heavy storms and severe weather, including tornadoes, struck Mower County this weekend.

“I guess if we get rainfalls like that, (culverts) aren’t designed to handle 100-year events,” Hanson said. “Once the road overtops, if doesn’t matter what you’ve got.”

Hanson said he heard reports of five inches of rain by Rose Creek and Adams and seven inches in Lyle and LeRoy, though he said the information has arrived mostly by word-of-mouth.

“We don’t have rain gauges everywhere,” he said.

According to Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi, authorities placed barricades in Grand Meadow, LeRoy, Ostrander and Taopi Townships. Other regions of Mower County were likely blocked off too, she said, noting that roadways with low-lying culverts suffered most during the storms. Severe weather is forecasted to continue sporadically Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, according to KAAL-TV.

“If we get more rain as predicted Tuesday and Wednesday night, it’s not going to take long to put back up,” she said, referring to barricades.

Hanson said he was hopeful.

“If everything drops back, given that there isn’t any damage reported yet, we’re keeping our fingers crossed,” he said.

Saturday’s storm tracked a northeasterly route when it crossed the Iowa-Minnesota statelines.

Lyle City Clerk Diana DeBoer said there were tree branches down in the community, some old trees uprooted in the rural areas around Lyle and 8 inches of rain to deal with over the weekend.

“There’s really not a whole lot of damage to report at this time,” DeBoer said Monday. “There are maybe 6 to 10 homes who had water in their basements.”

“Most people had enough warning to get things out of their basements so it was mainly the loss of carpeting they suffered,” she said.

Six inches of rain fell Saturday with another 2 inches on Sunday in Lyle.

The weekend’s rains caused a serious interruption of the 2008 Dairy Days celebration at Adams.

Many events were canceled or moved indoors where possible.

The true excitement came late Sunday afternoon, when the Dale Himebaugh family reported seeing smoke coming from Marshall Lutheran Church northeast of the community.

The Adams Fire Department rushed to the scene and discovered a hole had burned in the ceiling above the altar.

The fire was immediately extinguished and the church saved, according to Pete Schmitz, Adams fire chief. Dexter firefighters assisted the Adams department at the scene.

The alarm was reported 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

“It was an older electrical outlet that apparently caused the fire and burned a 3-foot hole in the ceiling,” Schmitz said.

The fact firefighters saved the historic country church is by itself miraculous, according to firefighters.

Unfortunately, when rural churches suffer fires, the buildings are destroyed because the blazes go unnoticed until too late or the isolation of the churches in the countryside.

Not so, Marshall Lutheran Church.

According to the fire chief, Adams firefighters spent much of Saturday and Sunday “storm-watching” in the countryside in their fire district.

Jim Kiefer, mayor Taopi and the Adams city clerk, said the heavy rains created havoc for the Dairy Days activities, but neither town suffered any serious damages due to wind or rain.

A disaster of another sort was averted early Sunday morning at LeRoy, when the Upper Iowa River threatened to flood homes along East Lowell Street.

Firefighters, ambulance workers and residents of the area put sandbags in place to avoid a recurrence of the flood of 2004, according to city clerk Patty White.

Like Taopi and Adams, LeRoy received between 7 and 8 inches of rain in the 48 hour period leaving lakes of standing water in farm fields throughout the countryside.