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Flooding drives out seniors, washes car away

Staff writer

Someone knocked on Caryl Wiebe’s door at Salem Home Independent living at 11:30 p.m. last Wednesday, but when she answered, no one was there.

About 15 minutes later, a nurse knocked and told her, “Ma’am, you have to get out of there.”

When Wiebe looked down the hall, she understood why. A wave of water was rolling toward her room.

“Never has it come into the apartment like that,” Wiebe said. “It just came in a wave.”

Seven apartment dwellers sat together upstairs and two others sat elsewhere, Wiebe said.

Relocation of Salem Home apartment residents was just one of many impacts of flooding last week.

A Hillsboro Industries employee headed to work about 5 a.m. Thursday was swept off Indigo Rd. near 160th Rd. in his car, which came to rest in a field about 800 feet east of the road.

Nearby resident Amy Suderman and her husband, Dean, had been shining lights to try to warn drivers of the hazard.

“We saw him go by and we went over there, saw the car, and checked on him,” Suderman said. “He was just driving along and didn’t see the water.”

Suderman said county road crews should have barricaded the road.

“They just had one of those orange blinking light things, and people didn’t see it,” she said. “This is a main road, and it needed it blocked off better. That was preventable.”

The driver, who wasn’t identified, escaped without assistance from Hillsboro firefighters, who were prepared to attempt a water rescue.

“It wasn’t his fault,” she said. “He didn’t go around barriers and barricades. He was just driving along.”

Elsewhere, two foot bridges at the Hillsboro golf course were washed away. One bridge ended up against a box culvert on Ash St., and the other came to rest inside the culvert.

The bridges were returned to their proper places Thursday afternoon.

At Salem, only part of JB Bradley’s apartment, from the main hall to the back of the apartment, got wet.

Although Salem Home called around Thursday to locate places for apartment residents to stay, but Bradley declined to sit in a hotel room by himself. He had friends and relatives in Hillsboro, Marion, McPherson, and Newton, and he saw no reason for Salem Home to go to the expense of putting him up somewhere.

“I’ll find someplace, somewhere,” he said.

He wasn’t the least put off. When he moved his disabled wife to Salem Home because the care she needed had become too much for him, he was glad to learn the facility had apartments downstairs.

“Actually I feel so fortunate and blessed even just to be here,” he said.

Living downstairs has given him the opportunity to see his wife on a regular basis, even with COVID-19 restrictions in place. He can go to the courtyard and visit with her through the window.

“I understand their position completely that we can’t stay here,” he said. “It’s Mother Nature, what can you do? When you’re not dealing with your own stuff, you take all the steps. These guys are great, their home is great, and their staff is great.”

Five inches of rain that fell in 1½ hours caused flooded fields at several places in the county.

According to data are from the Corps of Engineers, the Cottonwood River at K-256 on the west edge of Marion crested at 4 p.m. Thursday at 14.11 feet above flood stage.

At that time, the river was flowing at 17,801 cubic feet (or 133,161 gallons) per second.

Marion Reservoir’s water level jumped to 2.56 feet above conservation pool, 5.44 feet below flood pool.

It was the highest the reservoir had been since July 22, 2019, but far short of the peak elevation, half a foot above flood control pool, on July 4, 2019.

Last modified June 3, 2021

 

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