Long recovery ahead for Thurman after destructive flooding

THURMAN - The flash flooding that ravaged roadways, tore out culverts and washed away bridges Saturday, stranded hundreds of Thurman residents and disrupted hundreds of lives.

But days later, the destruction now poses looming long-term issues: a lengthy return to normalcy, and the threat of crushing expenses to rebuild the town's infrastructure.

Soon after the flooding of historic proportions occurred on Saturday, Thurman highway crews worked day and night to restore roadways. Soon after, they were joined by public works employees of Warren County and various area towns in restoring at least one lane of access over the town's roads, most all of which suffered major damage, Warren County Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson said.

"We saw incredible flows of water like we've never seen before," he said, noting that up to four inches of rain fell within three hours.

"The floodwaters moved huge rocks and boulders - not just debris - tearing out culverts and beaver dams," he said. "The extent of the destruction was due to the storm's sudden intensity."

Tuesday May 31, Tennyson told county leaders the basic restoration of infrastructure could take six weeks more, and the county officials authorized overtime payments for the work.

Many residents living on dead-end roads were still stranded, Tennyson said. Meanwhile hundreds of other residents had to drive 30 miles or more out of their way to get basic supplies.

Tuesday, Supervisor Evelyn Wood estimated that repairing the damage in her town would cost several million dollars, a hefty sum for a town that has an annual budget of about $600,000. Saturday afternoon, she had declared an official state of emergency, an act which pre-qualifies her town for federal and state aid. Noting the destruction, she said that Barton Road, which was just constructed last year, was now completely obliterated by the flooding.

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