Residents Say Bridge Renovations are Needed to Ease Flooding

Residents Say Bridge Renovations are Needed to Ease Flooding

Some rural Jasper County residents say changes need to be made to a bridge before more flooding worsens. One resident, who lives west of Brooklyn Heights on old Route 66, says she’s seen the situation too often. Debris gets caught up under this bridge, and that backs up flood waters. When the water is let loose, problems arise.

There was a flood here in 1976. Valisa Crawford was standing outside her home.

“It was only about knee deep. Couple of feet deep,” says Crawford.

Then, there was a flood in 1993.

“It got about between three and four feet deep,” says Crawford. “It was not quite up to your waist when you walked through the deepest part.”

This year, a little more than a month ago…

“It was almost to my shoulders, and it hadn’t quite gotten inside my home yet. So it was probably at least six feet deep after we left. We were taken out of here by a big International tractor,” says Crawford.

Crawford says she and 11 other nearby homeowners are noticing a trend.

“It’s never been this bad,” says Crawford.

Crawford lives about a quarter of a mile away from the railroad bridge over Center Creek. It kind of acts like a levy during high waters.

“It holds the water back until it busts. And when it busts, it’s just like open flood gates,” says Crawford.

Crawford wants either the bridge to be reinforced so that it better handles strong current flooding, or replaced so that water flows more continuously, especially during flooding.

“The water would be dispersed evenly instead of a big gush at one time,” says Crawford.

One man, just down the road from Crawford, disagrees, saying the bridge does a good job of holding flood water back.

Karl Shaner says, “Most of the time it helps! Other than that, it (flood water) would be in their houses all the time!”

So a force of nature has a created a little bit of a dilemma here. Crawford knows flooding can’t be completely prevented. But she contends that some renovations on this bridge are worth a try, at least.

“It seems black and white to us,” says Crawford.

…Or the difference between dry and wet.

Crawford says she’s been in contact with an attorney and wants this bridge to be declared a public nuisance. Jasper County Commissioner John Bartosh did not want to be interviewed on camera for this story, but says the railroad company does want to build a new railroad bridge. Bartosh opposes this idea, fearing flooding will worsen.