Governor Jay Nixon says cleanup and debris removal are underway after late December floods along the Meramec, Bourbeuse and Mississippi rivers. Nixon has dispatched the Missouri National Guard to lead “Operation Recovery,” to help clear as much as half-million tons of debris.
Wednesday, Nixon signed an executive order to allow the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to temporarily waive regulations for debris and trash disposal, while protecting public health and safety.
The St. Louis region was hit hardest, with 7,100 structures were impacted in Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis counties, according to the governor’s office.
Over the weekend, the federal government granted Nixon’s request for an emergency declaration and now the state will focus on damage assessments for a federal disaster declaration for Individual Assistance, helping families with uninsured losses from water damage.
The governor says people who get help may have to face a difficult choice of whether to return to flood-prone areas. Yet, he says he would hesitate to limit development along riverfronts.
Nixon announced these steps at a press conference in St. Louis, in which he thanked community volunteers, faith-based organizations and disaster agencies for delivering supplies and aid.
Operation Recovery contractors will begin picking up debris next week in participating communities and the Environmental Protection Agency will begin hazardous materials removal at the end of the week. Debris should be placed curbside, without blocking the roadway.
“This is one of those things that’s going to be a trying time until it’s cleaned up,” Nixon said. “But we’re going to be here every step of the way.”