Culvert failures cause damage |

Culvert failures cause damage

by Sarah Hauck

Topaz Ranch Estates residents manned shovels and work boots to dig out mud-buried culverts after a Thursday afternoon storm brought over an hour-long downpour.

Residents were up to their ankles in mud and debris Friday morning accessing damage caused by a flash flood that swept through the community.

Culverts along all 27 miles of roads in the community were suppose to help eliminate these kinds of effects, however, many were unable to keep up with the amount of water and force the storm brought.

"There was too much water, too much force in too short a period of time," said Phil Miller, TRE resident and president of Topaz Ranch Estates General Improvement Department. "That culvert didn't stand a chance."

The culvert that runs parallel to Miller's home filled with water and eventually started pushing dirt and debris into the street.

The force of the water pushed a second culvert out of a dry creek bed also on Miller's property, into the street about 10 feet from its original position.

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The hour-long downpour caused the creek bed in Miller's yard to fill with water running about a foot deep.

"I've never seen something like this before," the 10-year resident explained.

Miller's culvert runs directly to the main road of the community, and if a flash flood were to happen again it would flood the intersection just below Miller's home.

"Another flash flood could be a real problem," Miller said.

Phil Stevenson, son of Miller's neighbor, was also hard at work trying to reverse the effects of the flash flood.

"I'm trying to get the driveway back to normal," Stevenson said.

The flood washed out an entire side of his father's driveway.

Stevenson was also concerned about another neighbor whose barn was filled with water.

"The community gets together to fix problems like this," Stevenson said. "You get done what you can at your place, then you go see where you can help."

Some residents feel that while the community help is welcomed, the General Improvement District should be the ones doing the brunt of the clean up work.

Bob Jacobson's garage filled with mud Thursday when the culvert by both his home and his neighbor's overflowed and pushed mud in a stream to his home.

"It was like a raging river," Jacobson said. "Rocks were rolling down this hill."

Jacobson's garage holds his prized truck that was due to have decals put on it Friday morning.

He was hoping to be able to get the mess cleaned up enough for the company to still be able to do their work.

Jacobson is one of the many residents that feels the amount of damage never would have happened had the culverts been taken care of correctly.

"If the ditches were clean, this never would have happened."

Jacobson would take care of the culverts to prevent this kind of damage from happening again, but said he had been told not to by the GID.

"I'm willing to do it," Jacobson said. " I just want to see the mess this caused cleaned up by them (General Improvement Department)."

Because culverts act as the major source of drainage within the TRE community, they are in front of almost every single home in the area.

Under previous management, the General Improvement Department was taking care of the culverts in terms of keeping them shaped properly and free of debris and silt that could cause potential back-ups like what happened Thursday afternoon.

However, residents like Jacobson explains that the culverts have not been cleared like they previously had been, and the result was the damages of the flash flood.

Miller, however, explained that residents are responsible for the up keep of the culverts in front of their property.

"They install them, they maintain them," Miller said.

Miller is not only a resident of TRE effected by the flash flood, but is also heavily involved in the clean up that the General Improvement Department is doing.

During a drive around with General Improvement Department district manager David Linge, Miller discovered that many of the culverts overflowed as a result of a silt build up or being crushed from being driven over by heavy equipment.

Miller explained that because the culverts are the responsibility of the residents, silt and damage done to them by being driven over is not the result of a blind eye from the General Improvement Department.

Linge and two field employees are working throughout the community on the areas that they felt needed the most help.

"We've got backhoes and street sweepers out there now trying to clean up the mess," Miller said Friday.

Miller estimates that it will take two or three days to return the culverts to working condition.

"We're going to return the culverts to a workable condition," Miller said.

Any new storms could cause unpreventable flooding because the ground cannot soak up more rainwater.

While the flash flood created some deeper ditches and culverts that could help contain extra rain from another storm, it also threatens to weaken the shoulders of the roads in the TRE community.

"The roads are a victim just like everyone else was," Miller said. "Deeper drainage ditches are going to start collecting water. This will start to erode the road shoulder causing a whole new problem."

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