Flood Damaged Roads & Bridges

(CHEROKEE COUNTY, IA) - The rain and flooding haven't only created problems for farmers and homeowners. Erosion from the water has caused widespread damage to roads and bridges.

That's especially true in Buena Vista and Cherokee counties. We checked out a bridge in north central Cherokee County that suffered some pretty serious flood damage over the weekend. It's just one of the nearly 250 bridges in the county that needs to be fixed.

"They have creek fest and stuff over here. It got quite a bit of water, but over on this side where the sand is - that's where they go in to get to the back," said Cherokee County Engineer David Shanahan. Shanahan has been an engineer for the county for the last five years. He can recall numerous road and bridge problems with blizzards and floods, but nothing compares to the recent one. "Not common that you see a flood based over such a wide area and not only just one county, but BV County and the eastern part of Plymouth County and Sioux County and O'Brien County. That's a large area to get this type of rainfall," said Shanahan. As we approached the beat up bridge, David spotted a truck past the barriers. "I gotta get out and talk to these folks," explained Shanahan. "We put these fences up for a reason because the bridge is undermined at the approaches," said Shanahan to the couple outside their truck.
"It's for their own protection that they follow this because it's too easy to get into something. And you can't see what lurks underneath some of these bridges that are washed out around them," he said. Once those folks got out safely, David pointed out how high the flood water rose. "You can see where the grass is matted down there and on the field there. So it was quite a bit. It was over the top of the bridge," said Shanahan. After the flood came through, the road looks like someone took a bite out of it. The county will have to make it look like it once was before the flood. "We don't have the money and the funding that we need to maintain it when we don't have an emergency. So when you get emergencies thrown on top of it, it really puts the county into a financial burden to get all these roads back up. And some of them may be closed for a long time," said Shanahan. So remember when you see road signs that caution you of danger or water ahead, it's not worth risking your life or anyone else's to across bridges and roads that are damaged from the flood.