Union County and the City of Union are preparing for a possible flood of Catherine Creek, above. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Catherine Creek flooding in Union is still a concern
The threat of flooding still looms over Union, but the situation is a becoming less threatening.
The large ice jam on Catherine Creek sitting about a half-mile east of Union along Highway 203 did not grow on Thursday, and ice build ups within the creek in Union became smaller.
“It is slowly getting better,” said City of Union Public Works Director Paul Phillips.
Phillips noted Friday that the water level in Catherine Creek above and below the ice jam has dropped since Thursday evening.
J.B. Brock, the director of Union County Emergency Services, also has encouraging news.
“I’ve driven up (past the ice jam) and the water upstream is flowing freely,” Brock said late Thursday afternoon.
This means that the ice jam is less of a threat than it could be, the emergency services director said.
Nevertheless, there is no denying that the pile of ice, about 120 yards long, still sits ominously on Catherine Creek. Should big pieces of the jam break off, they could float down into Union, become lodged and cause flooding.
Union County and the City of Union are preparing for a possible flood. Between six and seven pallets of sandbags have been brought in by Union County Emergency Services as part of the preparation.
Some are asking if officials should be proactive and break the ice jam into smaller pieces to prevent the likelihood of a flood in Union, something Brock said cannot be done because of liability issues. Brock said when ice is fractured, whoever did it assumes liability if pieces of the broken-off ice cause damage somewhere after floating downstream.
“(Damage caused by people breaking up ice) has happened in other places before,” Brock said. “You are taking a risk (by cutting up ice).”
He said that remaining patient and hoping that Mother Nature addresses the problem is the best option.
“There is value in letting it resolve itself,” Brock said.
The ice blockages in Catherine Creek have been brought on by a temperature inversion. The inversion resulted in elevated temperatures at higher elevations, causing snow and ice to melt and resulting in higher flows in Catherine Creek, where freezing temperatures have prevailed.
Brock said ice jams occur in Union County almost every year on creeks and rivers.
“It is something you have to deal with. It is part of living here,” he said.