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.
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