Flood damage less than expected

Many residents did not flinch when floodwaters arrived.
Sunday, May 13, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:40 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Dyno Penny runs an errand by canoe, as Steve Mellis relaxes with his feet in the water after the Missouri River flooded and forced some to evacuate.

Although the water is six inches deep in Mike Cooper’s house, the first floor of which is occupied by his restaurant, he is not worried.

The atmosphere at Cooper’s Landing was merry as Cooper and his friends listened to Eric Clapton and watched the muddy flood water drift by.

Around the state

Gov. Matt Blunt toured the state by helicopter Saturday to survey flood damage. He said the worst of the damage remained in the northwest corner of Missouri and that overall agriculture losses were the biggest concern. Dry, warm weather was expected across Missouri for the next couple of days, which should help keep rivers from running even higher. • The Missouri River reached about 29 feet Saturday morning in Jefferson City, about 6 feet above flood stage. Stretches of the Katy Trail, low-lying roads and nearly 1,400 acres of farmland were flooded. • A 100-foot section of levee blew out near Triplett on Friday, inundating close to 3,000 acres of farmland. No one was hurt, and people were continuing to sandbag Saturday. • Floodwaters kept U.S. 24 west of Brunswick closed, but U.S. 65 north of Carrollton was reopening as waters had receded Saturday. • A rail line serving a Chillicothe industrial park was damaged and shut down, and it wasn’t clear when it would reopen. • In Osage County, floodwaters from the Osage River went far beyond the banks, washing away roads and surrounding some homes. • Andrew County has begun tallying damage and found four houses and a business were destroyed by floodwaters. Another 74 homes were damaged.

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The roads leading up to Cooper’s Landing have been flooded and the only way to get there is by taking a two-mile bike ride down the Katy Trail. Cooper’s Landing was built to endure flooding.

Cooper’s neighbors weren’t worried, either, when they stopped by with the mail, using a canoe to reach the site.

“We feel good right now,” Cooper said. He said he and his neighbors are waiting for the water level to drop so they can clean up and get ready for Memorial Day weekend.

Barbara Gailes is one of the friends who stopped by Cooper’s Landing on Saturday afternoon. She owns a big house boat by the river, which they took out of the water and put on a trailer next to the house.

“The river tears away the docks,” Gailes said. “All the logs and stuff floating in the river can cause damage.”

Days after the flood warnings spread fear to Boone County residents living along the Missouri River, you can barely tell there’s been a flood at all.

The atmosphere was much the same at Rocheport, Huntsdale, McBaine and Hartsburg, where most residents drew a sigh of relief that the predicted 32.8 foot crest never came. A crest is defined as when floodwater reaches its highest point.

The final crest on Saturday peaked at 29.4 feet at Boonville and 28.8 in Jefferson City. The water level will slowly fall, reaching 17 feet in Boonville and 19.2 feet in Jefferson City by Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

The severity of the flooding at Rocheport can be gauged by two basketball hoops at Welbern Park. They were halfway in the water and, next to the basketball court, a picnic shelter was immersed in water. No benches or barbecue pits could be seen. Nevertheless, bikers flew by on the Katy Trail on Saturday afternoon, stopping only to climb over a temporary levy that had been built across it.

Lifelong Rocheport resident Rick Newel was laying on the ground fixing his truck in the sunshine.

“We all expected it to get a lot worse,” Newel said.

Remembering the flood of 1993, Newel said, “the water was up by the telephone pole,” pointing to a pole about 50 feet from where the current levies are built. Back then, the houses were sandbagged individually, all the streets were flooded, and the residents were evacuated before the crest.

Kenny Cook, a Huntsdale resident and owner of Katfish Katy’s, said only the lower part of his campsite was flooded, but he expects to be back in business by Wednesday.

Here, the flood waters rose fairly high but did not breached the levies.

“Closed for flood of ’07,” read a sign in the window of Lucy’s, the only restaurant in the small town of McBaine. It has been closed for a week, ever since the warnings started.

After the flood of ’93, several houses close to the river had to be torn down, and Lucy, the owner of the restaurant, said the entire first-floor restaurant was flooded. At least six inches of water had inundated the second floor, where she lives.

The mayor of Hartsburg, Nancy Grant, says that although the town has suffered minimal flood damage, the recent events have taken an emotional toll on the town. She said that most Hartsburg residents had lived through the ’93 flood and were dismayed when they heard crest forecasts promised damage on the same scale.

The ’93 flood left an “emotional scar” on the town, she said.

Hart Creek runs through Hartsburg and into the Missouri River. It flooded three times its original size, but has left behind little damage except to a few crop fields.

Water from several ditches is being pumped into the creek, and Grant says that there has been very little damage from overflow of ditches because the town was well prepared and acted quickly.

“There hasn’t been any destruction because we stayed on top of this,” Grant said.

A news release from the Columbia/Boone County Emergency Operations Center said that all areas in the county are stable, but the operations continue to run on a stand-by basis.

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