Mid-Missouri flooding kills teen, wreaks havoc
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Editor's Note: This story recaps, updates and adds to earlier reports (linked at the end of this article).
An Eldon teenager was killed in Friday’s floodwaters, after he fell into a culvert and was swept into a drainage system Friday evening.
According to the Eldon Police Department, 17-year-old Donald Parker fell into a culvert on Fifth Street in Eldon. Two divers from the Lake Ozark Fire Department entered the drainage area downstream and worked their way into the system as other rescuers sent cameras down the end where Parker went in.
Crews worked until approximately midnight, when because of the extreme conditions of the creek, the search was suspended until 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
At approximately 9:50 a.m., rescue crews found Parker’s body about a mile from where he entered the drainage system.
Jefferson City officials activated their emergency operations flood plan Saturday morning.
Photos of Missouri River and Osage River flooding in Mid-Missouri. On Monday, May 27, 2013, the Missouri River measured around 8 feet in Jefferson City, but by Saturday, June 1, it had jumped to 30 feet, bringing back memories of floods inundating the area 20 years earlier.
Mayor Eric Struemph said they hadn’t evacuated the airport, but preparations were in place, if that became necessary.
“The levee north of the river is expected to hold,” he said. “The wastewater plant was raised following the flood of 1993 and is not considered to be in danger.”
The city has sand and sandbags available for residents if necessary. Also, public works will deliver sand to effected neighborhoods if requested. Residents should call police information at 573-634-6400 to request sandbags or other non-emergency assistance.
“We have handed out some sandbags, but overall I’d say we’re holding our own, for now,” said the Cole County Emergency Management Director Bill Far, Saturday afternoon. “We still have several roads along the Moreau River closed due to high water, but if the forecast holds, it should drop quickly.”
On Memorial Day, the Missouri River measured around 8 feet in Jefferson City, but this weekend, it jumped to 30 feet, bringing back memories of where the river went 20 years ago.
“The forecast is for the Missouri to crest at 30.7 feet in Jefferson City (this) afternoon,” said meteorologist Julie Phillipson with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.
By comparison, the flood of 1993 saw the river rise to an all-time high of 38.6 feet.
“You had a very wet week,” Phillipson continued. “Our official reporting station at the Jefferson City Airport showed for the last week of May you received over five inches of rain, and most of it apparently came Friday when there was anywhere from 3.5 to 4.5 inches of rain. Add that in with what fell in the upper river basin earlier in Nebraska and Kansas and that added to your problems.”
Phillipson said the forecast is dry from Sunday through Tuesday which should help the river go down, but more rain is in the forecast starting Tuesday night.
As of Saturday afternoon, the Moreau was scheduled to go below the flood stage of 17 feet sometime this morning after reaching 26 feet Saturday.
The heavy rains Friday night kept emergency personnel busy.
Water along Wears Creek rose quickly, flooding the state parking lots along Missouri Boulevard and causing fire crews to be called out when vehicles got stuck in high water at Washington Park, Louisiana Avenue and Kansas Street and in the 400 block of West Miller Street.
In all, the Jefferson City Fire Department did six water rescues for people driving into high water. Fortunately in all these cases the occupants had gotten out of their vehicles safely by the time fire crews arrived.
City administrator Nathan Nickolaus said officials wanted to remind residents to be smart and not drive through water or on water-covered roadways.
Lightning strikes caused Cole County Fire Protection District crews to be called out Friday night.
The first call was just after 7 p.m. in the 5000 block of Scruggs Station Road and then an hour later a call came in the 1300 block of Dry Creek Road.
No injuries or major damage was reported in either incident.
Farmers and property owners along the Missouri had to do sandbagging to protect their land.
Jay Fischer in North Jefferson City said they had to close the Turkey Creek Bridge around 9 p.m. Friday night and start sandbagging because water was coming up faster than they thought.
“I think we have a fairly good chance of making it.” he said Saturday. “We held 30.6 feet in 2003 so hopefully we can do it again. We put dirt on top of our levees and hauled over 20 loads of sand and sandbags to cap levees. Still, there’s a lot of crops underwater.”
Dewayne Basnett has lived at 4509 Riverfront Drive for eight years and said the water near his home came up faster than he had ever seen it come up.
“It started during the day Friday, inches an hour,” he said. “It made its way to the first floor of the home. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Basnett felt flows from Truman and Bagnall Dams may have contributed to fast rise of water in his area.
“We do get backup from the Missouri, but we’re 10 miles from the confluence of the Missouri and the Osage,” he said. “I don’t understand why they couldn’t have held more water (Friday).”
Ameren Missouri owns Bagnall and director of hydro operations Warren Witt said they did have to release of a lot of water during the week.
“In addition to what we get from Truman, we have water from other tributaries we have to release,” he said. “So while Truman was at flood stage they dumped that water. Then the Missouri got high, so Truman stopped so it didn’t add to what was on the Missouri. That left us with just having to pass what was coming from the local tributaries and once we were able to keep up with that, then we could shut down. Now the Osage will drop quicker and that should relieve some of the pressure on the Missouri.”
Witt said the Corps of Engineers is responsible for controlling flooding on the Missouri and they made the requests to cut back the flow.
He also added that while they did make releases, they never had to open the flood gates of the dam, which would have added to the flood problem.
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