Athol Finishing off a home-cooked meal in the Thurman Town Hall, local highway workers reminisced about the mayhem they had to deal with seven months ago, when pounding rains and resulting floods washed out virtually every road in Thurman and swept away entire bridges.
As they talked, the town highway employees enjoyed forks full of ham, pot roast, mashed potatoes, velvet cake and other fixings cooked up and donated by people whose safety and access they work all year long to protect — as a gesture of thanks.
The occasion was the annual highway workers’ luncheon held Thursday, Dec. 29.
Thurman Superintendent of Highways Pat Wood recalled the progression of the events on Saturday, May 28.
Wood got a phone call early that Saturday, alerting him that roadway shoulders on Mud Street had washed away.
Wood and several other workers — Ed Brown, and Tim and Bill Arnold — responded and worked in the rain to rebuild the shoulder there, constructing “rip-rap,” or a wall of boulders, secured to withstand flooding.
As the group was finishing up their work, Mother Nature gave them an ominous warning, Wood said.
“It started raining like hell again,” he recalled.
Concluding the work, the four went home. As Wood was making dinner that evening he got a lot of phone calls, describing roadways that were washed out.
“I went out to Mud Street and saw that all the work we’d just done was gone — it was all washed away, plus a whole lot more.”
Pat said he called every member of the road crew, and they went out to survey damage throughout town, based on the flurry of phone calls.
The crew members found bridges washed downstream, replaced by gaping canyons. They found culverts swept away, leaving perilous drop-offs. Elsewhere, asphalt roads were turned into raging gravel riverbeds.