September 1, 2015

USDA will consider whether to add more Missouri counties to ag disaster declaration

Fifteen Missouri counties are included in an agriculture disaster declaration and USDA officials will decide if more should be added. FSA Administrator Val Dolcini says discussions will begin immediately.

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini

“I’m going to be meeting with my Missouri State Executive Director. I want to talk to him about the local conditions on the ground there and what more we can do,” said Dolcini. “We’ve got to the bottom of the extent of the disaster and how it’s impacted farmers in Missouri.”

Excessive rain and flooding earlier this summer led to the declaration. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the designation, allowing farmers in the affected counties to qualify for low-interest loans and other federal assistance. Affected farmers can contact their local Farm Service Agency office for more information.

The 15 counties included under the designation are Cape Girardeau, Clark, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Marion, Mississippi, Perry, Pike, Ralls, St. Charles, Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis and Scott, as well as St. Louis City.

 

Major disaster declaration approved for 68 Missouri counties

President Barack Obama has approved Governor Jay Nixon’s request for a major disaster declaration. The declaration is in response to prolonged flash flooding and severe storms from May 15 to July 27. Local governments and nonprofit agencies in the 68 counties included in the declaration – the most for any disaster in Missouri since the Great Flood of 1993 – can seek federal assistance for response and recovery expenses associated with the flooding and severe weather.

Gov. Jay Nixon (D)

Gov. Jay Nixon (D)

“The prolonged severe weather system that repeatedly hit Missouri with flooding and severe storms caused an estimated $38 million in damage to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure and resulted in at least 10 deaths,” Nixon said. “This declaration will help bring much needed financial assistance to the many communities that have sustained excessive response costs and heavy damage to essential public infrastructure.”

The counties included in the federal public assistance disaster declaration are: Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Audrain, Barry, Bates, Benton, Buchanan, Caldwell, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cole, Crawford, Dade, Dallas, Daviess, DeKalb, Douglas, Gentry, Harrison, Henry, Hickory, Holt, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Laclede, Lafayette, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Livingston, McDonald, Macon, Maries, Marion, Miller, Moniteau, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Osage, Ozark, Perry, Pettis, Pike, Platte, Polk, Putnam, Ralls, Ray, Ste. Genevieve, Saline, Schuyler, Scotland, Shannon, Shelby, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Texas, Washington, Webster, Worth and Wright.

Public assistance allows local governments and eligible nonprofit agencies to seek assistance for response and recovery expenses associated with the severe weather and flooding. The Governor said he will likely request that additional counties be added to the federal declaration.

The federal government said the Governor’s request seeking individual assistance for residents in Barry, Clay, Christian, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lewis, Lincoln, Marion, Osage, Ray, Ste. Genevieve, Stone and Webster counties is under review. That request was made July 21.

Individual assistance means that eligible individuals and households can seek federal assistance for uninsured losses from severe weather and flooding.

Governor Nixon first declared a state of emergency in Missouri on June 18. The state of emergency has been extended until August 14.

Investigation of fatal fire at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks continues

The State Fire Marshal’s office says it can’t determine what started a fire that killed four children at the Lake of the Ozarks late Tuesday.

The fire that killed four children occurred in the Compass Pointe condos at the Lake of the Ozarks.  (picture courtesy; KSSZ)

The fire that killed four children occurred in the Compass Pointe condos at the Lake of the Ozarks. (picture courtesy; KSSZ)

Evidence indicates that the fire at the Compass Pointe condominium began on the wooden breezeway outside the door of the apartment where four children died. From there, Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O’Connell said it spread inside.

“The door to that apartment was then opened when they were looking out and trying to fight the fire and that caused the fire to spread in through that open doorway,” said O’Connell. “The burn patterns show that the fire spread in on the floor and the walls as well as in the attic that extended from the breezeway over the apartment.”

O’Connell said investigators had to withdraw from the apartment because the floor was near collapse.

He told Missourinet several things could have started the fire.

“It’s possible that it could have been smoking materials. The air conditioners were mounted outside the apartments on that breezeway, so there’s also an electrical possibility, so those are a couple of possibilities,” said O’Connell.

The fire destroyed enough evidence of its cause that investigators are calling its cause, “undetermined,” which O’Connell says is not unusual.

A report on the fire will likely be released in a couple of weeks.

“The investigators from [Department of] Fire Safety as well as the police department have done interviews with everybody who was involved. They’re putting together those interviews and other findings and investigative materials,” said O’Connell.

The children who died have been identified as Kairi Helton and Zeza Bradshaw, both two, four-year-old Lee Ann Hendrickson and five-year-old Joshua Hendrickson. They were celebrating the birthday of one of the children.

Missouri Fire Marshall: cause of fire that killed four children undetermined

The state Fire Marshall’s office says it can’t determine what caused the fire that killed four children late Tuesday night at a Lake of the Ozarks condominium.

The fire that killed four children occurred in the Compass Pointe condos at the Lake of the Ozarks.  (picture courtesy; KSSZ)

The fire that killed four children occurred in the Compass Pointe condos at the Lake of the Ozarks. (picture courtesy; KSSZ)

Officials say the fire appears to have started just outside the door to the fourth floor unit the four children were in, but the damage was extensive enough it destroyed the evidence needed to pinpoint a cause.

The children who died have been identified as Kairi Helton and Zeza Bradshaw, both two, four-year-old Lee Ann Hendrickson and five-year-old Joshua Hendrickson.

Earlier story: Condo fire kills four children at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks

Condo fire kills four children at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks

Four children have died in a condominium fire Tuesday night at the Lake of the Ozarks.  Osage Beach Fire Chief Jeff Dorhauer says firefighters got there within minutes of the emergency call.

CompassPointOsageBeachCondoFire-e1438777734551

Photo courtesy; KSSZ

“At 11:21 p.m. the first 911 call came in from Compass Point Condominiums in Osage Beach. Crews arrived on the scene right about 11:30 p.m. They found heavy fire on the fourth floor and through the roof of the unit,” says Dorhauer.

“En route to the call, we were advised of individuals possibly trapped. Crews arriving on the scene found two adults on the third floor in an exterior window. They were able to rescue those two adults,” says Dorhauer.

The father of one of the children was in the residence at the time of the fire. He was able to escape on his own. Dorhauer says the man tried to go back inside to save others, but he was unsuccessful.

Dorhauer says firefighters couldn’t get to the children in time.

“The fire was so intense on the fourth floor that we couldn’t make entry,” says Dorhauer. “We quickly knocked down the fire. We recovered four children.”

Two of the children were 2 years old, one was 4 and the other was 5. They were cousins and there to celebrate the birthday of one of the children.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Some of the occupants told investigators that they awoke to the sound of smoke detectors blaring. Dorhauer says there are also reports of an explosion being heard.

“In the area where there was heavy damage, there were several air conditioning units. It’s a possibility that it could’ve been a compressor. It could’ve been an aerosol can. It is something we’re looking into but we haven’t determined what that cause was,” says Dorhauer.

Investigators haven’t determined if the fire started inside or outside, but the area near the children is where the heaviest damage was.

Names of the victims have not been released, pending notification of next of kin.

Eleven fire departments, three ambulance services and Osage Beach Police responded to the four-alarm fire. It took crews almost three hours to put out.