August 3, 2015

Missouri Governor requests disaster declaration after recent storms

A major disaster declaration has been requested by Governor Nixon to assist Missouri communities impacted by recent severe storms and flooding. Governor’s spokesman Scott Holste says the request includes 70 of Missouri’s 114 counties.

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

“Missouri has been hit hard over the last couple of months by a series of storms and storm systems that have gone through and done widespread damage,” says Holste.

The request seeks assistance for damage to public infrastructure in 70 counties and also asks for individual assistance for property ruined in 15 counties.

The counties in Gov. Nixon’s disaster declaration request for public assistance include: 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.

The counties the Governor is seeking individual assistance for are: Barry, Clay, Christian, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lewis, Lincoln, Marion, Osage, Ray, Ste. Genevieve, Stone and Webster.

Holste says he hopes to get an answer from the federal government in the next few weeks.

“We think we have met some of the thresholds for damage to public infrastructure. There were many counties across the state where roads, bridges and low water crossings were severely impacted,” says Holste.

Holste says it’s still too early to determine if an agriculture declaration will be requested.







Missouri governor will seek federal disaster declaration due to floods

Governor Jay Nixon said more than 50 of Missouri’s 114 counties have been damaged by flooding, and he’ll be seeking federal help to pay for repairs.

Governor Jay Nixon discusses the damage caused by flooding in Missouri so far this spring and summer.  (photo courtesy; Timothy W. Church, KRZK)

Governor Jay Nixon discusses the damage caused by flooding in Missouri so far this spring and summer. (photo courtesy; Timothy W. Church, KRZK)

Nixon said he will be asking President Barack Obama to declare a major disaster in Missouri. The governor said Missouri has clearly sustained enough flood damage to warrant that request, but first it must be assessed.

“For example, when I talked [Wednesday] morning to the mayors of Cassville and Branson, we’re going to have to get underneath some of the bridges in those towns to see what the damage is. You only get one chance to request this stuff, so sometimes that takes us a few weeks to get the full determination,” said Nixon.

Nixon said it could take a couple of weeks to complete those assessments and make the request. If approved, a declaration could provide up to 75-percent federal assistance for public infrastructure like roads, bridges, and parks.

On the private side the state is working with non-governmental agencies like churches and the Red Cross to meet needs.

“For the individuals out there that are in dire short-term need, working those agencies to make sure we get food, shelter, and other things that are necessary out to folks has been a very effective way for us,” said Nixon.

Nixon credited emergency responders and the Weather Service with saving lives, particularly in more than 20 high-water rescues since mid-June. He reminded Missourians not to drive in high water.

He acknowledges that people have died in flooding in Missouri, but said the last couple of days in south Missouri could have been far worse.

“As governor of the state it’s just always a lot easier when you’re not talking about significant injuries or deaths when you’re in these situations, and believe me, with the amount of water we had and where it was moving, we could have had both yesterday if it wasn’t for preparation and execution by the team here at the National Weather Service, the Highway Patrol, local law enforcement, our parks service, and others.”

Clearly roads and bridges have been damaged, said Nixon, but he said damage to the Roaring River State Park in far south Missouri also presents an important need.

“Roaring River is a significant asset to this region of the state and it took a big hit, and so we’re going to be evaluating what to do there to try to get that park up and operating,” said Nixon. “It’s my best guess that the trout that were there are on their way to New Orleans.”

Lynne Roberts, KTTS, and Timothy W. Church, KRZK, contributed to this story

Study: flood systems on Midwestern rivers inadequate, based on miscalculations

A researcher at Washington University in St. Louis says the flood control systems along the Missouri, Mississippi, and other rivers in the Midwest are based on flood height estimates that are too low.

A Washington University geology professor says predictions of how high a 100-year flood event on some Midwestern rivers can be are off, leaving cities, towns, and farms along those rivers in danger.  (photo courtesy; Missouri Department of Transportation)

A Washington University geology professor says predictions of how high a 100-year flood event on some Midwestern rivers can be are off, leaving cities, towns, and farms along those rivers in danger. (photo courtesy; Missouri Department of Transportation)

Geology Professor Robert Criss says that miscalculation means federal agencies are underestimating how high a 100-year flood on those rivers can be. A flood that reaches even a few inches above the top of a 100-year levee could cause a major breach in a flood control system, says Criss.

He says the formulas used to predict how high 100-year events could get assume conditions are the same as they were decades ago when there were fewer man-made structures along the rivers and global weather patterns weren’t changing.

“For example, the official calculations would suggest that at St. Louis since 2008 we’ve had three, 10-year floods, the most recent of which was last week. I’m saying in that period of time since 2008 we’ve had one, 5-year flood,” said Criss. “We overuse these terms – 100-year flood, 200-year flood, and so forth. They’re clearly out of whack with what is really happening. That’s because the levels we need to expect are higher than the official calculations.”

He says man-made river control systems narrow channels and keep floods from reaching wetlands and flood plains.

“We should leave our rural areas alone. We should leave our flood plains open to agriculture and not to commercial development, which is just putting more infrastructure in harm’s way while we’re aggravating the flood phenomena itself by restricting the floodwater’s access to flood plains,” said Criss, “which is what we do when we try to levee these areas off and change them from agricultural and wildlife uses to other uses.”

He says miscalculations mean 100-year levels predictions are too low in several Midwestern cities and towns along the Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, and Illinois rivers. He says those cities’ flood protection systems should be adjusted to prepare for higher crests.

“I think we should have more realistic flood estimates … We need to build our structures and protect our cities to accommodate those rising levels, and we need to have our future land use decisions accommodate what’s really good land use for low-lying areas,” said Criss.

Missouri firefighters head to Alaska to help battle wildfires

Firefighters from Missouri will be helping out with wildfires in Alaska. Mark Twain National Forest Fire Program Manager Jody Eberly told Missourinet five Missouri firefighters are on their way to help that region.

wildfireEberly said the group will be serving in Alaska for two weeks at a time and go back as needed.

“We’ll probably have some more people that will be available to help with that effort all summer,” said Eberly.

She says they have firefighters that go wherever a need is.

“We are a part of a larger national effort,” said Eberly. “Each year we probably send several hundred people out to help on other wildfires. Most of the wildfires you see on the national news have several hundred to several thousand people helping. We can ramp up or ramp down depending upon the complexity and situation of each individual fire.”

A long hot dry spell has parched forests and tundras, causing high fire danger in the Alaska region. Approximately 2,000 personnel from that region and the lower 48 states are helping in Alaska where almost 200 fires are burning.





Army Corps of Engineers changes river plan to help with flooding

The Army Corps of Engineers is reducing the water levels in the Missouri River. Jody Farhat with the Corps told Missourinet the move is in response to the heavy rainfall lately in the region.


Missouri River

“We reduced the releases further, trying to provide the maximum flood risk reduction in Missouri in particular.”

Farhat says more water will be held in the reservoirs upstream on the Missouri to help combat flooding.  Only about 30% of the flood control capacity is currently being used, so there’s more space if the wet pattern continues.

Farhat says it’s a dangerous time to be doing anything on the river. She says much of the river section between Kansas City and St. Louis is still above flood stage.