Jefferson City, Missouri (STL.News) – A request for federal assistance in Missouri’s flood recovery efforts is expected to be made next week. That’s what Governor Mike Parson told groups of farmers and volunteer responders on Thursday, based on preliminary damage assessments being conducted in 16 Missouri counties in response to historic flooding.
“Our preliminary damage assessment teams have more work to do tallying the damage, but it’s already clear that the flooding had devastating effects on homes, roads, bridges, and other essential infrastructure,” said Parson. “There’s no doubt federal recovery assistance is warranted to help Missouri families and businesses rebuild and keep their communities moving forward.”
Parson said damage assessments have been conducted or will soon be conducted in Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Carroll, Chariton, Holt, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Perry, Platte, Ray, Ste. Genevieve, and Scott counties. He said continuing high water levels are preventing crews from assessing damage in Cape Girardeau and Pike counties, but assessments will take place there as soon as possible.
The Governor today met with leaders of faith-based and volunteer organizations that have responded to the Missouri River flooding that began March 11. He told a joint meeting of the Missouri Governor’s Faith-Based and Community Service Partnership (The Partnership) and Missouri Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster that their work is making a tremendous difference for people in need. The meeting took place at Crown Pointe Assembly of God Church in Lee’s Summit.
“Missouri’s faith-based and volunteer recovery organizations are an inspiration to all of us because they give assistance and hope to people when they need it most,” said Governor Parson. “It started with sandbagging and opening shelters and serving hot meals for those who had lost their homes and progressed to clearing debris and muck from flooded homes and getting families on the road to recovery. The hard work volunteers do has become an essential part of our recovery framework in Missouri.”
“We very much appreciate Parson’s support and leadership as we continue to assist people affected by the recent flooding,” said Debi Meeds, United Way of the Ozarks President and The Partnership Chair. “Our coordinated response and collaborative approach to recovery ensures we provide crucial services quickly and efficiently to the people who need them most.”
Organizations whose leaders met with the Governor today included the American Red Cross, Convoy of Hope, The Salvation Army, Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief, Seventh Day Adventist Disaster Response, Operation Bar-B-Que Relief, and the United Way.
In Orrick, Parson was joined by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II for a meeting with Ray County farmers, ranchers, agriculture leaders from Missouri Farm Bureau, and the Missouri Levee & Drainage District Association (MLDDA) for the second ‘Farmer’s Talk’ of the 2019 season. The discussion was preceded by a survey of farmland impacted by a levee breach. The breach occurred on part of the Missouri Valley Drainage and Levee District, which protects 12,000 acres of farmland. Across Missouri, one-third of all cropland is in a floodplain.
“I am pleased to be here in Orrick with Governor Parson and Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst to see how flood stage water decimates levees on the Missouri River,” said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II. “If we are to mitigate the damage of future floods, it is important to understand what happened in this flood event, as well as the diligent work landowners do to keep the river from flooding their lands. Landowners are expressing concerns that flood control should be the primary focus of the Army Corps of Engineers. Farmers below the reservoirs are more vulnerable compared to the upper Missouri River Basin, and it is no coincidence that the largest flooding events have taken place in the lower Missouri River.”
“Thank you to Governor Parson for hosting another roundtable with farmers and their stakeholders to visit about the 2019 flood,” said Blake Hurst, President of Missouri Farm Bureau. Although the threat of flooding is not over for this year, it is not too early to begin discussions about how to improve flood protection in the future. The Governor and his staff’s support of these ideas and his leadership in improving flood protection throughout the Missouri River basin is greatly appreciated. We look forward to continuing these conversations into the future.”
“It was great to have the opportunity to discuss the ongoing flood event with the Governor,” said Tom Waters, Chairman of the MLDDA. “We need to focus on recovery now to find ways that Missouri can help assist in rebuilding critical infrastructure like levees. All of us in agriculture are closely watching river levels as we move into May with an already compromised flood control system.”
Next Friday, April 26, the Governor will join Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for a follow up meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The three Governors met with the Corps in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on April 3. The meeting will continue ongoing discussions the Governors are having with the Corps and other federal officials to identify regional solutions for better future management of the Missouri River system.