Gov. Parson tours northwest Missouri flooding, says state stands ready to help

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By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

Gov. Mike Parson addresses a news conference after touring northwest Missouri flooding.

Gov. Mike Parson tours flood damage in northwest Missouri, then addresses a news conference at St. Joseph’s Rosecrans Airport to assure area residents the state stands ready to help as the Missouri River rises to near record heights.

Parson says he observed the flooding during a helicopter tour of the area.

“There’s no question we’re concerned about this,” Parson tells reporters. “The water is going to rise. We know that. There are some levee breaches out there now, which I don’t know if that’s so terribly uncommon under these circumstances. It’s always a concern.”

Parson says his tour raised concerns about residents who have had to flee homes as the Missouri River continues to rise.

“Anytime you’re seeing that kind of devastation out there and you see water levels rising and you see people’s homes out there that’s getting close to the water line or electric plants, things like that that you see out there, there’s concern for that,” Parson says.

Gov. Parson speaks with state Sen. Dan Hegeman and Atchison County Emergency Management Dir. Rhonda Wiley as 139th Airlift Wing Vice Commander, John Clark, looks on.

Recent heavy rains, snowmelt up north, and additional water releases upstream have driven the Missouri River to heights the area hasn’t seen since the 2011 flood. The National Weather Service says the Missouri River at St. Joseph rose to higher than 25 feet Friday evening, heading toward a projected crest of 30.1 feet by Monday. The record crest is 32.1 feet, set in 1993.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased water releases from Gavins Point Dam in Yankton, South Dakota to ease widespread flooding in Nebraska. The Corps had been releasing 50,000 cubic feet per second and had intended to increase flows to 60,000. But with the devastating flooding in Nebraska, the Corps increase releases to 90,000, increasing worries about flooding downstream.

The Missouri and its tributaries have exceeded their banks in Iowa, overflowing Interstate 29 near Omaha. That prompted the Missouri Department of Transportation to close I-29 at mile marker 110 near Rock Port. Those wishing to travel north on I-29 are advised to take I-35 to I-80 and across.

Despite growing fears about increased flooding, Parson says he believes local emergency management agencies have responded well.

“I think right now everything is in place where it needs to be,” according to Parson. “We’ve got boots on the ground here. You’ve got the local level that understands this better than we do and that’s kind of why I’m here today, is to get that input from everyone who lives up here and try to do whatever we can to give them the tools they need to be successful to try to make sure we handle this situation the best we can.”