Rain, rain, go away
Last week's tumultuous weather was yet another reminder of the unpredictable, and sometimes insane, weather we're subjected to here in Iowa. When it was all said and done, much of Franklin County had received more than 10 inches of rain during a five-day period.
Roads closed, rivers flooded and some basements were turned into a muddy mess because of the unrelenting rainfall. Franklin County was declared a disaster area by both the board of supervisors and Gov. Terry Branstad last week, and that certainly seems fitting. Nearly every ditch, creek or river throughout north central Iowa burst out of its banks last week and our county was no exception. We can be thankful we were spared some of the massive flooding seen in places like Rock Rapids or Rock Valley, where extreme conditions completely destroyed homes and forced the evacuation of many others.
Franklin County received well over $1 million in damage nonetheless. Flooding proved troublesome, but so too did the June 16 storms that wrecked outbuildings, demolished trees and caused severe damage to a handful of homes throughout the county. Whether or not tornadoes were to blame is still being debated, but some of the evidence around Alexander and elsewhere seems to indicate a twister touched down at least momentarily.
Streamlined winds caused the most visible wreckage last week. Branches, and in some case whole trees, lined the streets in Hampton last Tuesday morning. In Geneva, it looked like a small bomb went off. Every yard had at least one tree with heavy damage while many others had more. The scent of freshly-cut wood hung thick in the air Tuesday as residents worked to clear the broken branches and felled trees.
It was a mess, but it was short lived. Residents can be proud of their city and county employees, friendly neighbors and local volunteers for working hard to clean up the wreckage in a timely manor last week. Many people helped others clear felled trees and branches last week, but they didn't have to. It's a testament to small town community spirit and friendliness – when people needed help, there were more than a few helping hands to offer a rake, chainsaw or some elbow grease last week.
It seems likely that Franklin County would be declared a disaster zone by the federal government soon. Officials will make an assessment at a later date, but much of the damage seen during last week's storms mirrors the damage we saw in 2013. Heavy rains caused flooding, and tornadoes in early June wreaked even more havoc on our already battered county last year. It would appear the condensed timeframe of last week's rain and wind storms would re-open Franklin County up to federal relief dollars to recoup some of the damages suffered to secondary roads and other infrastructure.
It’s quite obvious the rain needs to stay away for a while. Farmers with new ponds in their fields are sour, county and city staffs were inundated, and many residents were left shaking their fists after the storms had passed. If anything, last week's conditions proved one of the age-old truths about Mother Nature – when it comes to the weather, nobody's happy.