Floodwaters in county recede significantly


The 2024 Washington County flooding event has subsided significantly since last week.

Washington County highway supt. Dave Kruger said a lot of the waters near County Road P51 and south of County Road 34 in Fort Calhoun have receded, as well as near Optimist River Park in Blair.

According to a June 28 Enterprise article, the areas affected included several fields north of Blair at Fish Creek; Northview Apartments; Fairview Drive east of Marina Drive; Optimist River Park; and County Roads 34, 47 and P51 in Fort Calhoun.

According to a social media post from DeSoto and Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuges, as of July 2, the river levels have dropped "significantly," though the two areas are continuously seeing floodwaters draining into the refuge, increasing water levels at DeSoto Lake.

"Many refuge roadways remain flooded as we wait for river levels to drop enough where we can begin letting water out from the lake," the post reads. "Floodwaters are receding quickly at Boyer Chute and refuge staff will begin assessing roads and refuge conditions soon. Both refuges currently remain closed to public access."

"We've been really happy with how fast it went down — I thought it wasn't going to go down because the way it started, the first two days afterwards there was no progress," he said. "It just kind of all started to go down pretty quick. I'm hoping after the end of this week it's all down and the roads can get back open."

The Blair bottoms were opened to the public this week, Kruger said.

"We were happy to see the roads weren't just gone — they had some damage for sure, but we've been addressing them and trying to get them up and get everyone through them," he said.

Kruger said there is some road damage at CR P51 and 34, where an in-progress state armor-coating project was occurring.

"The good news is, we should be able to get it back open all the way — they should commence the work pretty soon," he said. "It's not like the three-year process we took from the 2019 (floods). I'm hoping a much quicker turnaround."

Following this year's flooding event, Kruger said the main priority now is clean-up and safety.

"I think we're going to be in pretty decent shape," he said. "It's just cleaning up everything, getting the debris off. We just want to make sure it's all clean and safe before we open it back up to the public."

While the water levels reached higher than in 2019, Kruger said the addition of ice and the duration of the flooding five years ago made that event much harder to control.

"It going down within a week really was the key to keeping things to a minimum," he said.

Additional rain in the county has not affected the floodwaters too significantly, Kruger said.

Many extreme weather events around the county have proven a taxing task for the Roads Department, Kruger said.

"To have these four weather events since January — 12 inches of snow, tornado, flood in Arlington, plus this flood — we're seeing 10 years of different weather in six months," he said. "It keeps you on your toes. It's been interesting. The guys are beat but we're keeping them going, and tomorrow's going to be better. We'll get there, everything is going to be good. It's just going to take some time."