Slow Flow

The James River bridge at Jamesville Colony is one of two Yankton County bridges over the river that remains closed pending inspections.

Yankton County officials are continuing to take slow steps to return the area to normal after a second round of major flooding.

With waters on the James River receding, some of the county’s bridges have even been allowed to reopen.

Yankton County Highway Superintendent Mike Sedlacek told the Press & Dakotan that issues at some of the county’s bridges have been relegated to debris cleanup and minor damages.

“There’s a lot of debris removal — trees and logs,” Sedlacek said. “Fleeg’s Bridge passed the inspection. Johnson Bridge passed the inspection. We still have some asphalt repair to do around the guardrail around the Johnson Bridge.”

He said there was no major damage to the bridges caused by the latest round of flooding.  

“Just a lot of tree debris stuck up underneath (Johnson) Bridge,” he said. “When we inspected it, Fleeg’s only took us one hour to two hours and the Johnson took around three hours to get all of the debris removed.”

However, he said there were some scouring issues at both sites.

The first two bridges have been reopened for more than a week now, but conditions were still unsatisfactory last week to inspect the Jamesville and Stone Church bridges.

“When we took the snooper truck up to Jamesville, the water level was too high to get the snooper truck under the bridge,” Sedlacek said.

He said there had been tentative plans for Clark Engineering to finish the inspections this past weekend, but as of Monday, that had not occurred.

“The truck was not available and it just didn’t work out,” Sedlacek said. “We’re planning on this week sometime.”

These bridges will not be reopened before passing an inspection.

Additionally, there will need to be some asphalt repairs along the roads leading up to these bridges.

Given how bad the James River flooding was in the county, Sedlacek said the county fared decently well, road-wise.

“We could have it a lot worse,” he said. “We could be like all the counties up north where all of the creeks and streams (rose up) and all the culverts got washed out and it’d be like starting all over from the spring,” he said. “Us, all we had was the Jim River flooding.”

As the road situation continues to be assessed, Yankton County Director of Emergency Management Paul Scherschligt said officials are trying to translate those assessments into disaster relief.

“We just submitted all of our public assistance and our individual assistance paperwork to Pierre (Monday),” Scherschligt said. “We’ve met our threshold for the county, which is over $84,000. Now it’s in their hands. In the next couple of days, the state’s going to be looking at all of the counties affected to see if maybe we can get another (disaster) declaration.”

He said the current damage estimate was around $1 million including individual assistance. Estimates for damages to infrastructure are not available yet as assessments continue.  

Scherschligt said that river levels continue to fall and that rainfall late last week didn’t affect the drop in levels much.

However, he’s still got his eye on potential winter conditions later this week, even though they appear to be well away from Yankton.

“We’re going to be watching pretty close what’s going to happen with this front coming in with the rain and snow,” he said. “They’re still talking not a whole lot. I think it’s going to be out more in the Pierre area and western South Dakota area than our area. It depends on the model.”

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For up to date information on road closures in Yankton County, visit https://arcg.is/qXfqi     

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