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Count your blessings and sharpen the chainsaws

July 13, 2014
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

This week's column topic wasn't difficult to choose, just difficult to find the time to write. I missed last week because of a few little things. First, a tornado-like if not a full blown tornado hit Morrison on Sunday evening, June 29. Nick and I both landed in Morrison about the same time that night to assess the damage. Fortunately, the museum complex was left untouched save for a good portion of the elm tree that landed on the neighbor's fence and on into the yard. The north shop building sustained a bent eaves though. Yet immediately north the Cooley building lost the roof and immediately to the south and east, the Haskovec building was half gone and the remainder skewed badly.

The half gone part of the Haskovec building wasn't hard to find. It was lying across the Pioneer Trail along with many, many trees and parts of trees. Monday morning found us clearing debris from the Pioneer Trail and that tree on the museum grounds. We weren't alone in the effort. A large contingent of Morrison residents, friends, and workers made amazing progress before the storm blew into town Monday afternoon. I wrapped things up at the office and went home to find a small branch down in my yard. I went ahead and had supper before going over to Wolf Creek Park. It had received no damage from Sunday evening's storm I had checked it Sunday night. But the Wolf Creek was on the rise and I knew I would need to close off the road to the primitive camping area due to flooding.

I was greeted by a far different sight than I was expecting. Monday afternoon's storm had ravaged the trees there. In my 34 years with the county, I have never seen so much damage in the park. Six big basswood and oak trees were uprooted. I lost count (actually never attempted to count) how many trees were broken off, lost tops or major portions.

Article Photos

Debris on Pioneer Trail in Morrison.
Photo by Kevin Williams

The most amazing part of everything was that the Getting's camping trailer which was camped at site 11 was untouched by the debris. And one of the largest basswood trees was uprooted just a few feet from it! They weren't around during the storm. They were fighting water issues at home at the time.

I locked the gate and Tuesday morning saw our whole crew down assessing the damage and the plan of attack. The words "war zone" were uttered more than once. The five of us armed with chainsaws, trailers, chains and the skidloader made amazing progress that day and Wednesday. The decision was made Thursday to leave the gates locked. The other parks needed some attention before the 4th of July weekend and Wolf Creek was not going to be fit to open.

I did not even mention the Comet Trail yet. There are portions that we haven't even been on yet. The two miles of trail that I did walk is a mixture of washed trail surface from the flooding and a brambles of down trees and branches. The Secondary Roads Department chipper will be borrowed and our crew will be chewing their way down the trail. Please bear with us in these efforts. Wolf Creek will be partially open this week and the Comet Trail will be a bit longer.

All in all we should count our blessings. People were uninjured and very few amenities were damaged. But hopefully you can understand why the Sunday, July 6 storms that blew through the area had me anxious.



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