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Damages have yet to be totaled from recent floods


ST. LOUIS — As a life-long resident of Waynesville, Mo., Republican Rep. Steve Lynch said he’s never witnessed flooding like that of earlier this month when heavy rains hit south central Missouri.

Waynesville, a city of about 5,000, was one of the hardest hit areas. So much so that a mother and her four-year-old son died due to the devastation. chart_1 (7)

Lynch’s grandson, Jordan Perrone, also lives in the city. Waynesville is located in central Pulaski County and along the Gasconade River — the major source of the flooding. At 22, Lynch said, Perrone already owns his own home, which he purchased two months ago. That home is now flooded out and requires major repairs, and ruined furniture has to be replaced.

“He’s been an absolute trooper,” Lynch said.

When Lynch approached his grandson about changing out damaged dry wall, Perrone said it can wait. Other people need the help more, Perrone told Lynch.

Lynch said he’s observed that same selfless attitude in the Waynesville community. Now in the recovery stage, Lynch said Waynesville citizens continue to unite.

“Neighbors going in and helping each other really made the difference,” Lynch said.

Gov. Jay Nixon ordered a state of emergency on Aug. 6, which put the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan in effect. Through this plan, state agencies work jointly with local officials to give emergency relief. The Missouri National Guard and Missouri State Highway Patrol were deployed to aid devastated communities.

chart_1 (6)According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the President can deem a “major disaster” after a governor makes a request for the President to do so. A governor makes this request only when “costs of a disaster exceed the resources of state and local government.” If the President decides the damage is enough to “warrant major disaster assistance, the affected area becomes eligible for a wide range of assistance coordinated by FEMA.”

Mike O’Connell, Communications Director for the Missouri Public Safety Department said he does not have any numbers to share s far as the cost of damage to the state as assessments are still in progress. Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) are a combined effort between local officials, SEMA and FEMA. Costs associated with public entities and nonprofits such as public works, school districts and emergency response agencies are reviewed in the Public Assistance Assessment. Individual Assistance Assessments review damage for individuals (residences and other property damage). An area of “primary impact” in a Public Assistance Assessment details what type of public area or property was in most need.

“I think that it’s safe to say that with flash-flooding, in general, the primary impacts will be damage to low water crossings and roads — and we are finding that to be the case in this instance also,” O’Connell said.

FEMA assessed the damage and met with Waynesville city officials on Friday, Aug. 23. But before FEMA assessments, Waynesville City Administrator Bruce Hammill said the estimated cost for public assistance — which does not include residential or personal property — totaled to $857,325. After FEMA reviews the damage, that number could increase or decrease, he said. Prior to this estimate, Hammill said the City’s mayor and City Council approved a $300,000 transfer to Waynesville’s emergency operations account.

The Good Samaritan Center of the Ozarks is a donation point for Waynesville and Pulaski County. Executive Director Connie Chambers said the Center is still collecting donations, but that a local bank provided 22 campers for temporary housing. So far, the Center has received about $30,000 of monetary donations.chart_1 (5) (1)

“It’s not over,” Chambers said. “We will need every penny of it.”

Between Aug. 6 and 7 in Waynesville and Pulaski County, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) reported 330 people were without power, an estimated 30 homes destroyed, four homes suffered major damage and 47 homes had minor damage.

Phelps County hosts the Gasconade River on its northwest border, as well as the National Weather Service, which measures the Gasconade crest, or flood, levels. On Aug. 7, the Gasconade River at Jerome — located in Phelps County — reached its highest recorded level at 31.81 feet. The National Weather Service considers a 15-foot crest level at Jerome a flood stage.

After an initial survey of the damage in Phelps County, Commissioner Randy Verkamp said it could cost about $703,000 to fix public infrastructures, but that number “will continue to grow.” This number takes into account machine or equipment hours, labor hours and materials for roads and bridge repairs.

About $40,000 was spent on rock alone — not including equipment or labor — for road repair, according to Michelle Bock of the Phelps County Highway Department.

“It’s to get roads passable for now,” Bock said. “We’re not anywhere near completed.”

There is no total amount for residential property damage in Phelps County yet, although FEMA was in the area on Saturday, Aug. 17, according to O’Connell from SEMA.

chart_1 (8)The Gasconade River near the Hazelgreen community in Laclede County reached its seventh highest crest level at 29.56 feet (8.56 feet above the flood stage) on Aug. 6. According to a SEMA report, Laclede County officials suggested Hazelgreen residents evacuate the area the next day. The impact, the report continued, affected between 20-40 homes and 300 people.

Danny Rhoades, Laclede County commissioner, said the FEMA PDA for public assistance totaled $774,881. He added the price could change upon further investigation.

In 2007, the county faced two disasters. An ice storm cost the county $872,000 and a flood totaled to $1,650,036. Another flood in 2009 tallied up to $556,904.36. A 2011 blizzard, which shut down Interstate 44, was worth $28,249.26 in damages.

Tom Wright, the Miller County commissioner, said official numbers have not yet been reported, but he thinks the cost of damage in Miller County could reach $1 million.

“We’re afraid it’s going to be that high,” he said.

The County has already spent $25,000, he said, to “get roads passable.” He added that four-wheel drive vehicles could only trek certain roads. Of the 680 miles of Miller County road, 600 have the responsibility of the County’s Road Department. Miller County was one of 14 counties that requested public and individual assistance assessments from SEMA and FEMA, according to SEMA.

Dent, Gasconade, Morgan and Polk counties requested Individual Assistance Assessments only, according to SEMA. Cedar, Dade, Shannon and Wright counties appealed for Public Assistance Assessments only. Fourteen counties applied for both: Barry, Camden, Dallas, Laclede, Maries, McDonald, Miller, Osage, Ozark, Phelps, Pulaski, Taney, Texas and Webster.

What will be granted on a federal lever in terms of assistance has yet to be determined.