Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday afternoon he had declared a state of emergency in Missouri in response to continuing severe weather forecast across the state for the next few days. He also activated the State Emergency Operations Center to help coordinate assistance between local and state authorities.
The Missouri River at Jefferson City was forecast to crest at 32.7 feet Thursday — just below the 33.5-foot crest of the flood of 1995 — as of Tuesday afternoon.
If the river reaches that level, Jefferson City officials said, they have plans in place to deal with potential problems.
City Operations Director Britt Smith said areas around the Millbottom would be flooded, closing Missouri Boulevard and other streets with the river water going into Wears Creek and over its banks.
"That would certainly have an effect on traffic," Smith said.
Railroad traffic would also be affected. The Missouri Department of Transportation announced Tuesday afternoon that the Missouri River Runner Amtrak trains would not run Wednesday or Thursday. People who bought tickets for those trains will instead be taken by bus to their destinations.
As far as how high water levels would affect emergency services, Jefferson City Fire Department Spokesman Jason Turner said the department will adjust its response routes accordingly.
"Station 1, being downtown on West Main Street, helps us to know when conditions change," Turner said. "We'll also be paying attention to areas on East McCarty Street, near Boggs Creek, which is in the area of Station 2."
Since they have personnel on duty 24 hours a day, Jefferson City police will also be keeping an eye out for potential problems.
"We share that with other departments so they get that as fast as possible," said JCPD Lt. Dave Williams.
Residents who live on Geneva Street had contacted public works officials Tuesday about getting sand to protect their properties. The neighborhood isn't far from Cole Junction at Missouri 179, where flooding has occurred in the past.
"This is a river flooding event, so in my experience people who are susceptible to river flooding already know they will have to take precautions," said Jefferson City Public Works Director Matt Morasch. "We're not looking at this right now as a flash flooding event, but that can change depending on how fast the rain falls."
Cole County roads closed Wednesday morning due to flooding included Loesch Road, Bainer Road, North Branch Road, Waterford Road, Murphys Ford Road, Meadowsford Road, East Lohman Road, Engineers Road, Vaughn Ford Road and East Cole Junction. Streets closed in Osage City included Railroad and Water streets.
"We expect we'll close more roads as we get more rainfall, but right now it's happening in the normal sequence that we've seen in the past," said Cole County Public Works Director Larry Benz. "We're fortunate that most of the landowners don't have their homes in low-lying areas that could flood."
Jefferson City put together a flood action plan in 2008, and it's been revised five times since then, Morasch said.
"Each flood event we learn something, and we might decide there could be something done a better way, so we try to put it in the plan," Morasch said.
"From a public safety side, we want to make sure is that people pay attention to the recommendation we make for them and their safety," Williams said. "We don't want to get into a situation where we are forcing people to do something. If we close a road, we want people to understand that we're closing it because it could be dangerous to go through. If they go around those blockades, then that could have an effect on our resources, potentially having emergency crews having to do water rescues and taking those crews away from another emergency situation they could be needed at."
Along with moving planes and equipment out of the Jefferson City Memorial Airport on Tuesday, city officials said they had been informed Capital Sand Company, ABB and MFA were either moving equipment out of the potential flood area or taking precautions to protect their property.
Smith, who is secretary of the district board for the Capital View Levee on the north side of the Missouri River, said there's no reason to suspect any problems with the levee.
"It is regularly maintained; and I have spoken with the board of supervisors that oversee the maintenance of the levee, and they've taken the necessary actions at this time," Smith said.