Record flooding in the Midwest

Photo by Shari Harris 
Last week’s rains left “ponds” in every low spot. 
These wild geese stopped for a swim in a pasture near Edgar Springs on Wed., March 13th.

By Shari Harris
The Missouri, Platte and Grand Rivers in northwest Missouri all experienced flooding over the weekend. The Missouri River in St. Joseph is expected to reach its third highest level by early Thursday afternoon, at 28.9 feet, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) on Tuesday. The highest was 32.07 feet on July 26, 1993, and second was 29.97 feet on June 28, 2011. Moderate flooding occurred over the weekend and major flooding is forecast for St. Joseph, including into some residential areas. Downstream areas as far away as Jefferson City are forecast to have minor to moderate flooding.
According to Mo. Dept. of Transportation (MoDot), Interstate 29 at mile marker 110 near Rock Port in northwest Missouri has been closed due to flooding. Thirty-five flood related road closings were listed for that region of Missouri.
Gov. Mike Parson’s office reported in a press release on Friday that he had met with his emergency management team regarding flood response plans. The state’s response included:
• MoDOT worked with Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa to prepare detour plans for major roadway closures due to flooding.
• The MSHP prepared with additional equipment and swift water rescue personnel on standby.
• The Mo. National Guard temporarily relocated the 139th Airlift Wing’s C-130s from Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in St. Joseph.
• The State Emergency Operations Center activated at a Level 3, which means key response agencies have personnel on the SEOC floor.
• A NWS meteorologist was embedded at the State Emergency Operations Center.
• SEMA provided the City of St. Joseph with a sandbagging machine and assisted with acquiring 365,000 sandbags from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Northwest Missouri is already experiencing significant flooding that’s closing roads and impacting homeowners and farmers, and the situation will affect many more Missourians in the coming days,” Gov. Parson said. “I urge Missourians to use care when traveling in flood areas and to never attempt to drive on flooded roads. People who live near rivers should be paying close attention to flooding updates and be ready to move valuable property, if necessary.”
As severe as the flooding is in northwest Missouri, Nebraska is even more affected. Nebraska is facing record flooding, and the Missouri River is also causing flooding in Kansas and Iowa. A “bomb cyclone” dropped large amounts of precipitation quickly, and coupled with Nebraska’s record setting winter snowfall, flooding has occurred due to runoff from falling precipitation and snow melt, further complicated by frozen ground.
Mo. Dept. of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) also issued a press release about the dangers of floodwater.
”Just as driving in moving or standing water is dangerous, wading in floodwaters or exposure while recovering from a flood can pose health risks,” said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director.
DHSS advises, “Children should be warned never to play in or near floodwater. Seemingly stable creek and stream banks may suddenly give away, throwing a person into moving water. Powerful currents can sweep people in, resulting in deadly consequences for them and rescuers. Additionally, floodwater may obscure storm drains or culverts.”
Other risks reported by DHSS include:
• “Floodwater can contain raw sewage and pose other risks, including infectious diseases, hazardous chemical exposure, and debris that can cause injuries.
• “Direct contact with floodwater can cause skin rashes, an infection of cuts or wounds or stomach illnesses including vomiting and diarrhea.
 • “Downed or broken power lines in floodwater pose an electrocution hazard.
 • “Sharp objects and debris, such as glass or metal objects, may be lurking in floodwater.
• “Animals, insects, snakes and other reptiles that have been displaced due to flooding may be submerged or hiding in debris in or near floodwaters.”
DHSS recommends that anyone involved with flood cleanup should have an up-to-date (every 10 years) booster dose of tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine.



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