Thunderstorm closes roads in Arenac County

Kevin Bunch
Conrad Road between Hagley Road and Arenac State Road was closed May 29 due to floodwaters covering the road.

ARENAC COUNTY —Thunderstorms the night of Tuesday, May 28 brought sudden heavy rainfall to Arenac County and caused several roads to be washed out.

Arenac County Emergency Management Director Ed Rohn said he had received reports of roads being flooded and closing across the county, though the storm brought nothing like the magnitude of the tornados that touched down near Flint.

As of the afternoon of May 29, roads currently closed are Conrad Road between Hagley and State roads in Arenac Township, Morley Road and South Nine Mile Road in Adams Township, South Walker Road at West Jose Road near Twining, Sterling Road at Wolfe Road, South Nine Mile Road at Moore’s Junction Road, and East State and South Dean streets in Sterling. There is also a report of a hole in the road caused by erosion on Twining Road at Swartz Road.

Arenac County Road Commission Superintendent Blair Dyer said some of those roads are not historically prone to flooding.

“Sterling Road had water on the road, and we’ve never had that before,” Dyer said. “It was kind of a flash flood. We had a lot of rain in a short time, and it washed out a lot of culverts.”

The National Weather Service reported Arenac County largely received about 1-2 inches of rainfall from the storms, with Sterling recording 2.85 inches of rain.

He said the floodwaters were receding rapidly as of May 29, and he expects the roads to largely be ready for traffic again by May 30 as long as additional rainfall does not hit the area.

Dyer said the road commission will have to wait for the floodwaters to recede to determine what the exact cause of each issue is, but he expects the culverts to be a major factor.

He said some culverts may have started to break down and are developing holes or otherwise falling apart. They could also have gotten clogged or jammed at some point, causing water to back up. They could also have been functioning properly but were simply unable to handle that much rain at once, he said.

“We were looking at one culvert there, on the village limits of Sterling on Sterling Road,” Dyer said. “It’s broke down and the water was up 3 feet above that culvert. Two hours later, it had already dropped 3 feet, so it drains out fast.”

On Conrad Road, he said a county drain runs parallel to the road and is backing water up to the road.

“The water just can’t get away fast enough,” Dyer said. “This is the time we find a lot of bad culverts.”

Bad culverts are either repaired or replaced when they are discovered, Dyer said, adding that the road commission has already replaced a few this year.

Rohn said there was also a power outage Wednesday morning around US-23 and M-65, but Consumers Energy was not reporting any existing outages as of noon that day.


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