More than 100 days into northwest Missouri’s worst flood in almost sixty years, the extent of the damage remains hard to gauge.
Broken levees, thousands of acres of flooded farmland, homes and parks under deep water. The state transportation department counts fifteen bridges that are flooded, six of which already have been replaced in the Safe and Sound Bridge program. One was still under construction when the water poured in.
About 400 feet of Highway 159 near Fortescue has been washed away. Highway 136 also has some extensive damage. But a lot of roads are so far under water the department can’t determine the damage.
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls this the worst flood in the area since 1952. Transportation Department engineer Rick Bennett wouldn’t be surprised if it is. “I believe that we haven’t seen anything like this in many decades,” he says, “Some of these roads have not seen these kind of issues since they were built.”
The interstate highway that links Kansas City with Canada remains closed indefinitely from northwest Missouri well into Iowa because of the continuing Missouri River flood. Interstate 29 was closed at Rock Port on June 15th. The road in the last few miles of north Missouri is not flooded. But the highway is under water about a mile north of the Iowa border and Iowa officials say they can’t tell when it will reopen.
Bennett estimates the damage just to roads and bridges is in the $5-10 million range. But he says that’s pretty speculative because so many roads and bridges are so far under water And he says it’s anybody’s guess when the water will go away enough that roads can be repaired and reopened.