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BANGKOK 21 April 2019 09:14
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Missouri River flooding forces evacuation of 7,500 from waterfront city

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Missouri River flooding forces evacuation of 7,500 from waterfront city

By Karen Dillon

 

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Buildings are submereged in floodwater in Bellevue, Nebraska, U.S., March 20, 2019, in this still imgage taken from social media. Bellevue (Nebraska) Police Department via REUTERS

 

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (Reuters) - Record floodwaters that submerged vast stretches of Nebraska and Iowa farmland along America's longest river reached a new crest on Friday at the waterfront city of St. Joseph, Missouri, forcing chaotic evacuations of thousands from low-lying areas.

 

With emergency sirens blaring as the Missouri River rose to the top of the three-story-high levee wall in St. Joseph, about 55 miles (88 km) north of Kansas City, Missouri, sheriff's deputies rushed door-to-door urging residents to flee to higher ground.

 

About 1,500 residents and 6,000 employees of neighboring businesses were ushered out of the southern end of town, a city official said. Most of the evacuated dwellings were trailer homes interspersed among factories, warehouses and stockyards along a stretch of the riverfront known as "the Bottoms."

 

Many residents appeared stunned as they scurried out of their homes with armloads of hurriedly gathered belongings to throw into their vehicles before joining a steady stream of cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and tractor-trailers.

 

The abrupt evacuation, coming as the river rose just over 15 feet (4.57 meters) above flood stage - slightly exceeding the previous record of 32.1 feet (9.78 meters) - appeared to take authorities and residents by surprise.

 

"We don't have anywhere to go. This is overwhelming," said Linda Roberts, 70, as she and her husband, John, 66, packed their SUV, their dog sitting uneasily in a pet carrier.

 

With police doing their best to direct gridlocked traffic and with helicopters whirring overhead, dust billowed up from packed roadways for hours, mixed with the odors of livestock and chemicals, as the mass exodus proceeded in slow motion.

 

The St. Jo Frontier Casino, about 5 miles to the north, was already surrounded by water, and roadways along the river were submerged, officials said.

 

The flood crest was expected to reach the Kansas towns of Atchison and Leavenworth, about 35 miles farther downstream, on Saturday, and Kansas City as early as Sunday, officials said.

 

FLOOD RECORDS BROKEN

 

Missouri River flooding was triggered by last week's "bomb cyclone" storm, which killed at least four people, drowned livestock and closed dozens of roads across a large swath of Nebraska and Iowa. Property and financial losses for the two Midwestern states were projected to surpass $3 billion.

 

Torrential showers over hundreds of square miles of melting snowpack produced record volumes of runoff that poured into the Missouri just above the Gavins Point Dam where the river divides Nebraska from South Dakota, nearly 400 miles upstream from Kansas City. The dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 

Water entering the reservoir from that storm marked the greatest volume measured there in 120 years of recordkeeping, said John Remus, chief water manager for the Army Corps' Missouri River basin.

 

The downstream flow, breaking flood stage records at several locations along the river, has placed enormous strain on the region's system of flood-control levees. Nearly 50 levee breaches have been confirmed in the Army Corp's Omaha district alone, encompassing the hardest hit parts of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, officials told a news briefing.

 

Nebraska farmers were digging out of flooded fields and coping with cut-off highways on Friday.

 

"The biggest thing right now is the transportation. We're right between Loup and Cedar River, and transportation is nearly impossible," said Ryan Sonderup, 36, of Fullerton, Nebraska, who has been farming for 18 years.

 

Officials downstream were carefully watching flood gauges in Atchison, Kansas, a community of about 10,000 residents where a handful of riverfront properties and roads were under threat of flooding.

 

Missouri Governor Mike Parson declared an emergency on Wednesday as high water forced evacuations of several small farm communities in the northwestern corner of his state.

 

President Donald Trump on Thursday approved a disaster declaration for Nebraska, making federal funding available in nine counties ravaged by last week's floods. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Friday requested a presidential disaster declaration for 57 flood-stricken counties in her state.

 

The threat of extensive flooding lingers over the wider Midwest and could grow dire in coming weeks with additional rainfall and melting snow runoff, putting more than 200 million people at risk, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-03-23

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Sorry but no sympathy for people knowingly living behind a series of FLOOD PLAIN LEVIES and are surprised when they fail and the river slightly exceeds it previous high water mark. They’ve been warned yet try to defy Mother Nature and want everyone to help pay for their recovery while blaming it on global warming,,,oops it’s climate change now. It’s all crap in my opinion and has been going on for years on the east coast beachfront to the point now they’ll only rebuild your home once and next time is out of your pocket.
There’s a reason why the French Quarter didn’t flood during Katrina and it’s not because the pumps didn’t fail it’s because the French took the high ground.
Go Fund me isn’t new the federal government has been sending money to cover people’s poor decisions for years.

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7 hours ago, rooster59 said:

a stretch of the riverfront known as "the Bottoms."

I'm from Missouri. I don't know how widespread the word "bottoms" is around the world, but where I'm from, it refers to low land that is expected to flood. It's a river bottom. Makes great farmland, but not a great place to build.

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Garrison Dam 1953, Oahe Dam 1959

 

When making disparaging remarks about the unfortunate folks facing this disaster, keep in mind that this is record breaking.   Records have been kept for the past 120 years.   Consider this:   The Garrison Dam, in North Dakota was built in the mid 1950's and the Oahe Dam, in S. Dakota, was finished by 1960.   They control huge volumes of water and, at the time, almost guaranteed a halt to everything but minor flooding.   

 

This unprecedented flooding is way beyond what any prudent person would expect.   I think a little compassion is in order.   

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where are the climate change believers? can't this be blamed on climate change? How is it that a polar bear choking to death on the bones of a baby seal it's devoured is a clear indicator of climate change and global destruction, but when a bunch of regular mom/pop with kids families are caught in flood, these same climate change believers state... it's just because of their own doing?

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