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Storm causes major road damage, Laquey road cut off by 15-foot ditch
LAQUEY, Mo. (May 12, 2009) — Members of the Pulaski County Commission recounted emergency efforts over the weekend to deal with the aftermath of a Friday storm that caused damage all over Pulaski County, including a washed-out culvert on Sherwood Road near the Laquey school that trapped numerous people in their homes.

“You could have hid a semi truck down there and nobody would have been able to see it,” said Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink at Monday morning’s county commission meeting.

“It was a 15-foot wide hole, and it was 15 feet deep and it cut the whole road out. The banks are straight up and down on each side; there was no way to get to the residents who were down there,” Zweerink said. “That’s a dangerous devil down there. I’ve been around a lot of those things but this was dangerous.”

Zweerink, who lost his own telephone service during the storm, said the washout cut the phone cable to about a dozen homes near the end of Sherwood. After calling Lawson Smith, Pulaski County’s emergency management director, Smith arranged for a ladder truck from the Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District to come down to Laquey to bridge the gap and allow firefighters to get across the ditch.

Nine of the ten families were located, Zweerink said, and a check determined that three of the people had health problems serious enough to require immediate access to medical care if their condition deteriorated.

“We decided to cut alongside the bank a trail for these people; we took the backhoe and cut a trail,” Zweerink said. “These people were wonderful. After we cut the trail, after we left they took 2x10s and made a bridge across this thing so people who were healthy could go back up and take care of the people who weren’t.”

Zweerink thanked numerous Sherwood Road residents, including a Fort Leonard Wood drill sergeant for helping locate people from the area. Several other residents provided ice water and food to county road crews that worked from 7 a.m until 8 p.m. Saturday to make temporary road repairs.

“It took every machine the county had; all of our workers done a wonderful job,” Zweerink said. “We broke up slabs of concrete that were 6 foot high, 10 feet long, stacked on each other like dominoes in a 15-foot hole where the sides were caving in on us … In the meantime our backhoe broke two hoses and went down on us.”

Special arrangements were made with a local gravel company owner to provide about three dozen loads of gravel to county workers in Saturday, he said.

There are still serious problems with other roads in both the eastern and western districts, Zweerink said.

“It’s not perfect but it’s the best we could do with at the time. I’ve got people down there now pouring wing walls, putting footings in because if we get another (storm) Wednesday, it’s going right back out there,” Zweerink said. “That’s how our weekend was spent. Besides that we had four motor graders running full time … We bladed every road in the Laquey area. They are not right but they are passable.”

Efforts were made to get help from Fort Leonard Wood, Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall said, but the only available bridging equipment was a tank-mounted bridge that post personnel feared wouldn’t be able to get into the road due to its poor condition and the heavy weight of the tank.

Some help may be available from the State Emergency Management Agency, Ransdall said.

“We are going to contact SEMA today. The governor did declare Missouri; we need to find out now if Pulaski County is in that declaration and if not I’ll call the governor’s office personally and ask because we’re going to spend a lot of money,” Ransdall said.

Road conditions in Big Piney are also bad, Ransdall said, speaking for Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham who was absent due to illness.

“The clerk notified me that the eastern district equipment is in Big Piney with the exception of one that was left in the Dixon area,” Ransdall said. “I had a guy tell me this morning they had boulders in his road the size of a cash register. You can’t straddle one of those with a four-wheel drive truck without tearing an oil pan or a transmission out. A lot of the work they did was just simply rolling the big rock out of the way so people can get in and out.”

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