Deteriorating roads affecting drivers

From home health care workers to bus drivers, roads affected by rising floodwater and thawing are causing quite a mess in North Iowa and Southern Minnesota

Posted: Mar 14, 2019 10:14 PM

BRITT, Iowa - With water crossing roads in the area, authorities are starting to close some of them down, with authorities in a few counties advising drivers to especially stay off gravel roads.

Part of Highway 18 in Duncan was redirected through town for a time Thursday, as Iowa DOT crews were trying to break up an ice jam that caused water to go over a box culvert and over the road.

Linda Friedow lives between Britt and Kanawha, and she's noticing the effects the rain and snow melt are having on the roads.

"Lots of field water. Drainage ditches are near the top or overflowing."

With construction still not completed on a portion of County Road R35, the weather is not making travel any easier.

"Lots of potholes. My husband works in Fort Dodge, and he took the long detour around because he couldn't go that way."

For home health care workers, it's also been a challenge to get to clients. Chelcee Schleuger with the Hancock County Health System says there has been some adjustments to get where they need to be.

"We've been trying to keep our nurses on paved roads only. It does affect the travel and time it takes to get to clients' houses, but luckily, we've been lucky with good and nice clients that they understand and want to make sure we're safe as well."

Fortunately, they are in constant contact with Emergency Management, and are trying to work ahead.

"We make sure we plan ahead for everybody we need and make sure they get the help they need. If we see it being an issue, then we work with their provider and make sure it's taken care of."

Meanwhile, school districts like West Hancock, Belmond-Klemme, Charles City, Osage and Blooming Prairie are playing it safe by having bus drivers stick to hard-surface roads. In the Howard-Winneshiek district, classes were cancelled on Wednesday and Thursday because none of the buses could get to rural students.

Kim Redenius is a bus driver with West Hancock, and says the decision was made after seeing the roads deteriorating throughout the week.

"We have a 5 o'clock shuttle, and I think the gentleman that did that was at least 20 minutes late, that's why we went to hard surface only. You can only travel 20-25 mph in a bus. The other night my knuckles ached from hanging on to the steering wheel."

For families that live on further from paved roads, she points out that families are working together to get youngsters to class in time for the first bell.

"I have parents meet down the road where they live on gravel, but another family doesn't, so they meet at that place. Other families are driving them to other locations so we can stop there and pick them up on a hard surface."

Per a post on their Facebook page, West Hancock says that drivers will contact country route families for pick up and drop off places and approximate times.

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