Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Assessor's Office Closed by Flooding, Commissioners Work on Roads

Sequoyah County Assessor Donna Graham had to close her office indefinitely Tuesday, due to flooding which even sandbags (above) could not hold back, and county commissioners were busy repairing washed-out roads again after another downpour drenched the county Monday evening.

The county commissioners reported roads that could be repaired were being worked on Tuesday, while several other county roads remain closed.

District 1 Commissioner Ray Watts said he closed the old highway into Moffett, which was voluntarily evacuated over the weekend, due to the rising level of the Arkansas River. Also closed are Wilson Rock Road and the road to Mayo Lock and Dam 13, both south of Muldrow and also due to the Arkansas River flooding. The river was expected to crest at just over 33 feet on Tuesday at Van Buren. County Road E 1100 is still shut down after it washed out earlier this month.

District 2 Commissioner Steve Carter said he has one major road closed, Indian Road between Gum Springs and Tahlequah. That road also washed out earlier this month. Carter said a portion of the road about 50 feet wide and 110 feet long is gone. "It goes straight down," Carter said, adding, "and I don't know where we are going to get the money to fix it."

District 3 Commissioner Jim Rogers said several of his county roads washed out again Monday evening, but were being repaired on Tuesday. He said Keck Ford Road, also known as the Old Radio Station Road, remains closed after washing out earlier this month. "This is the third time S 4660 Road (off State Highway 141) has washed out," Rogers said.

Graham said her office has flooded four times in the past week, and it is believed the flooding may be caused by not only the heavy rain but also the recently paved parking lot at the county courthouse. Graham said those working to repair the problem have said a French drain may have to be added to the parking lot to direct runoff waters away from her office.

Graham said no records have been damaged, to her knowledge, and all records have digital backup. But Graham said she fears letting her employees work in the office under the conditions. She fears mold and other aspects of the flood could have an unhealthy effect. Workers were removing the drenched carpet and soaked walls on Tuesday, and water was still standing on the bare floors.

Graham said she hopes to be closed only a couple of days, but isn't sure when the office can reopen. More rain is predicted during the coming week, and she fears more flooding. Additional concrete may be laid at the back of her office where the flood water enters, but concrete can't be laid in the rain, she noted. 

Graham added that people are being nice about her having to close the office. She stated that this is the quiet time of the work year for the assessor. She explained that the courthouse is under the jurisdiction of the county commissioners, and the county will have to pay for repairs. The county will also have to look at repairing leaks at the county jail, Rogers added.

Steve Rutherford, Sequoyah County Emergency Management director, was out with state officials Tuesday reviewing the damage to county roads and structures so the county may apply for state and possibly federal aid. An early estimate suggested damages to county properties only were well over $350,000.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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