The Memorial Day holiday weekend got off to a rough start late Friday afternoon in Ozark County as thunderstorms dumped 2 to 4 inches of rain in about 90 minutes in some areas, sending creeks over low-water crossings and washing ruts in county roads.
Most of the heavy rain fell on the western half of the county, where Western District Commissioner Greg Donley said the storm caused so much road-and-bridge damage that he had crews operating four county graders making road repairs on Saturday and one on Sunday morning. “I’m hoping we don’t have any more of those flash floods,” he said.
The Ozark County Sheriff’s Department and other emergency agencies responded to two vehicles that were submerged in the rising water. At 7:22 p.m. Friday, a black pickup was reportedly washed off the side of the road and was floating down a creek alongside Highway 5 north of Gainesville near Pinnacle Ranch. Wasola VFD and Gainesville Fire Department also responded. The driver, who was not identified, was able to get out of the vehicle and no injuries were reported (see photo, page 14).
A little more than three hours later, the OnStar emeremergency system reported a “car going under water” on County Road 528. Emergency responders, including Lick Creek and Timber Knob VFDs, hurried to the scene. Lick Creek VFD chief Jerry Rowlett said the vehicle was crossing Possum Walk Creek and had slid off the concrete slab into deep water, but the unidentified driver was out of the vehicle when rescuers arrived and was not injured.
Ozark County Emergency Management Director Brett Meints said he and his wife, Jamie, stayed busy during the storm handling calls and updates from the weather service and from state and local agencies. Wind gusts reportedly reached 40 to 60 mph as a wall cloud moved from Taney County into Ozark County, Brett said Monday, adding that he had no reports of structural damage or injuries linked to the bad weather.
After Friday’s storm, the rest of the holiday weekend’s weather was better for those who headed to are lakes and rivers or planned other outdoor activities.