Rain affecting everyone from farmers to gravediggers

Friday, March 28, 2008
Rainy days just make kids more creative as witnessed by this group of four, five and six year olds at New Pathways Preschool. Elliott Henk, Taven Noll, Justin Parsons, Max Mijic, Alex Rosenau and Allison Staples spent all morning Thursday building their space station out of Legos.

Precipitation is 100 percent.

Chance of rain and thunderstorms expected.

Putnam County residents have grown accustomed to hearing these phrases daily.

With the end of March quickly approaching, Putnam County weather spotter and BannerGraphic watcher Peggy Torr reports the county has already received over 13 inches of rain since January 1. She reports an additional .82 inches in today's newspaper.

The annual average for the county is around 39 inches with an additional 16 inches in snowfall. So if the weather holds, we will exceed our average by at least an additional 13 inches by the end of the year.

Besides the obvious flooding issues what does all this rain mean for Putnam County residents?

Kids can't get out to play during spring break and the saturated ground makes it tough for Forest Hill Cemetery workers to prepare gravesites.

Forest Lawn Cemetery Superintendent Ernie Phillips has a backup plan for taking care of excess moisture.

"We have a pump that can remove 60 gallons of water a minute. We connect it to a 40-foot long hose and remove any water. If it's rained a lot we may have to pump the new site two or three times before the burial," remarked Phillips.

"We also have board covers made of three-quarter inch plywood to create a road to the site. We have a lot of problems with ruts. This spring we'll be doing a lot filling in ruts and seeding," he added.

Folks are even having trouble taking yard waste to the site in Greencastle.

"The ground is so wet my truck just sunk down into the gravel. With the added weight in the back of my truck, I thought I was going to get stuck," reported local resident Ed Banes.

New Pathways Preschool students are finding creative outlets for their energy by building elaborate Lego structures.

"It's almost like this every year. The kids miss being outside. They loved yesterday," said Mary Jane Scamahorn from New Pathways Preschool.

"The kids have been doing more in the multi-purpose room here. It's large so we can do more active things. There is a class now doing movement with music. Since they have more time inside now, it's really fun to watch them building these big structures with Legos," added Scamahorn.

Local farmers are not as concerned yet. Saraellen Peters and her husband Harl farm locally.

"We usually don't get into the fields until April 21 so right now it's not a problem. Rain is usually a good thing. It helps the crops. If it keeps up this way it might not be such a good thing," Mrs. Peters told the BannerGraphic.

Farmer Gene Beck isn't worried about the rain yet either. As a livestock farmer he worries more about freezing rain.

"As long as we don't get more than a couple inches at once, we just get muddy cow," stated Beck. "We leave them outside most of the time. They head into the hollows and trees for protection. Freezing rain is hard on them but nature's windbreaks are better than anything else," he added.

Sue Crafton, Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation told the BannerGraphic she is most concerned with the possibility of erosion.

"If the weather pattern continues we have the potential for soil erosion, and with the chilly weather and rain farmers may have a problem getting into their fields" she said.

While the extended forecast for Putnam County includes yet more rain, it will come with higher temperatures that will help spring buds grow.

"Of course, this is Indiana and we always have the potential for another weather change tomorrow," concluded Crafton.

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