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Extra Patience Needed on Rural Roadways After Floods

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Widespread flooding this spring damaged fields, roads and structures across Nebraska, southwestern Iowa and down into Missouri. (DTN file photo by Russ Quinn)

Back in mid-March, a good portion of Nebraska and some surrounding states were hit by the now-infamous bomb cyclone. The rare weather event dropped large amounts of moisture on frozen ground, leading to flooding that damaged fields, roads and structures across Nebraska, southwestern Iowa and down into Missouri. Additional flooding has occurred in various parts of the country during the rest of spring and early summer.

We didn't have any flooding issues on our farm, but I did know others who did and had to leave their homes and farms because of the flooding. These folks still face a long path to recovery to return to their normal lives.

One long-term side effect of the severe flooding was rural roads and highways being closed due to damage caused by flowing water. In our area, Nebraska Highway 91 and U.S. Highway 30 both had sections washed away by the raging floodwaters.

Both highways opened recently after being closed for major repairs for about three months. The detour added many more miles of travel for many drivers in east-central Nebraska.

An Extension specialist is urging patience on many Midwestern roadways after the flooding seen this spring. Jim Humphrey, a University of Missouri (UM) livestock specialist based in Andrew County, Missouri, is advising motorists to exercise extreme caution as they travel rural roads this summer, according to a UM news release.

As the floodwater flowed south in the Missouri River, it led to widespread flooding in northern and central Missouri. Travel in these areas remains treacherous and cumbersome with many roads still closed due to flood damage.

The many road closures have diverted traffic onto rural roads. The influx of drivers unfamiliar with two-lane roads compounded traffic problems as farmers attempted to plant crops in-between the many rains this spring.

Humphrey noted trucks hauling gravel and sand for roads and railroad and levee repairs has also increased traffic. Quarries in his area were running trucks on weekends to haul supplies for repairs.

Northwest Missouri has seen several accidents that could be indirectly related to the spring flood.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that a 17-year-old Stanberry youth driving a tractor was killed in a June 5 accident on State Highway O. The youth moved into the center of the road to avoid a culvert just as a dump truck was attempting to pass. The truck hit the tractor, sending it rolling into a ditch.

On May 28, a farmer was hospitalized after a dump truck crested a hill and struck a tractor near Savannah, Missouri. In April, four people were injured near Stewartsville, Missouri, when an SUV rear-ended a tractor.

This problem is not going away anytime soon, Humphrey said.

"We have a lot of things that are not normal this year," Humphrey said.

I talked to a farmer from central Missouri several months ago about all the traffic in his area during the summer months. People from northern areas cross his region on their way to the Missouri Ozarks, a popular vacation destination.

He said the traffic is heavier in the summer, in general, but specifically on Fridays and Sundays as people are heading to the area for a quick weekend trip. I know many people from Nebraska and Iowa who go to Branson and the Lake of the Ozarks for a close summer vacation.

If you are driving through Missouri -- or any other rural areas -- this summer, please slow down and keep an eye out for farm equipment on these rural roads. Be courteous and share the road.

To read the entire University of Missouri Extension report click on the following link: https://extension2.missouri.edu/….

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

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