County road crews fight rainy battle

CACHE--Comanche County Commissioners said Wednesday that ten roads remain closed in the county as a result of heavy rainfall and flooding earlier in the week.

"It's almost like a nightmare," said Western District Road Foreman Darvin Smith.  "We've been out day and night.  Sometimes we start at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning and put in 14 to 16 hour days."

Smith said his road crews maintain approximately 700 miles of county roads, but with the recent flooding that work has shifted to just about 100 miles of those roads.  Those are the roads that have flooded and have washed out and need immediate repair.

"Each time we think we got something back up and running, 24 hours later, it's in the same shape it was in, maybe worse," Smith said.

To make those problems worse, Smith's crews can't even get to the gravel pits where their gravel is taken from because the pits and the roads to the pits are underwater.  In addition, some of the roads are in such bad shape the large trucks and equipment needed to repair the roads can't even drive down them.

But it's a developing situation on the roads that nobody is supposed to drive down that's concerning Smith and Commissioner Susan Ulrich.  People are stealing the signs warning drivers that roads are closed because of high water.  Smith says, on average, they lose about 8-to-10 signs a day.  Each sign costs between $40 and $100, but losing a sign on a flooded road could cost much more.

"It could cause a death," Smith said.  "It's very major.  At this time all I'll say is, I wish, when we get our signs up please leave them up and respect them."