WELD COUNTY - After surviving one of the worst droughts in decades, Glenn Werning's family thought they were heading for a bumper corn crop. Spring snows helped get a crop out of the ground and plentiful irrigation water allowed it to grow well.
"There were times during the spring when it looked pretty favorable. Moisture at the right time to the corn out of the ground and get a crop started," Werning said. "It was a good crop. It was going pretty good."
The Werning family grows about 600 acres of field corn along the South Platte River near LaSalle. The family has farmed the land there since 1936.
While favorable weather conditions in the spring facilitated a good crop to grow, a change in those weather conditions changed everything on August 3. A hail storm that swept through the area did major damage to the corn crop.
"That was a pretty wild little storm that came through. It wasn't big hail, but it had a lot of wind," Werning said. "On the worst hailed corn, I'd say they got a 75 percent loss."
They were preparing to harvest what remained when the weather again altered the plans. Heavy rains swelled the South Platte River and sent a torrent of water through the Werning farm. Waist deep waters covered the corn fields and filed them with debris.
The flood waters also destroyed roads and bridges in the area of the farm.
"It seems like a lot of problems. We just have to deal with them one at a time," Werning said.
If they are to salvage anything from this year's harvest they will first need to get equipment into muddy fields. They will also have to clear those fields of debris in order to safely use that equipment.
"They got quite an investment out here so we're dealing with the idea that we hope we can get to that someday," Werning said.
In addition to flooded fields and crop damage the family also has seen their homes damaged by the waters.
"I don't even know how to explain that one. We're now to say we understand how the people of Katrina feel. Life just totally changes," Werning said.
While the flooding this year is the worst they can remember, the South Platte River has overflowed and flooded their fields in previous years.
Werning says he would like to see some changes made to the river to prevent future flooding.
"It would be nice if that thing was capable of handling more, so it doesn't disrupt so many lives," he said.
The family does have crop insurance, but has not had a chance yet to file a claim for flood losses.
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