Jefferson City issued a declaration of emergency, began road closures and started evacuations in North Jefferson City on Wednesday in anticipation of severe flooding.
The Missouri River is expected to crest at 32.4 feet around 1 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The elevation is expected to reach 30 feet — the elevation the Capitol View Levee in North Jefferson City holds — Thursday morning.
"Anything over that would exceed the elevation of the levee there, so that's a big concern, and then the whole area would begin to flood," Jefferson City Public Works Department Director Matt Morasch said. "So we anticipate quite a bit of flooding in North Jefferson City."
During a special Jefferson City Council meeting Wednesday, Mayor Carrie Tergin issued a declaration of emergency for all city residents and businesses north of the Missouri River. The flooding "constitutes an emergency condition for Jefferson City," Tergin said.
At 3 p.m. Wednesday, there was a partial closure of the North Jefferson City area, meaning property owners will be allowed in the area to continue to evacuate their properties but the general public will not be allowed in.
At 5 p.m. Wednesday, there was a mandatory evacuation of North Jefferson City, meaning property owners should leave the area, Morasch said.
The mandatory evacuation will stay in effect until the mayor or City Council lifts it, according to a Wednesday news release from the city.
"Once the mandatory evacuation goes into effect, there is a potential that if you had a problem — levee broke or whatever — and you happened to be over there, the public safety may not be able to react and get you out of a bad situation," Morasch said.
Members of the public will not be allowed in the North Jefferson City area since the water is expected to go over the levee.
U.S. 54/63 currently is set to remain open, Morasch said.
The pedestrian bridge on the Missouri River bridge was set to close sometime Wednesday, Morasch said.
The city also planned to close the Turkey Creek levee gap at noon Wednesday.
City staff warned flooding may occur in the Millbottom area of Jefferson City. Parts of the Millbottom area, as well as the intersection of Missouri Boulevard and East McCarty Street, would flood if the river reached 32 feet, according to the city's flood view map.
If roads are closed, drivers should not go around the signs, city staff and officials said.
The Missouri Department of Transportation announced the Missouri River Runner Amtrak train between St. Louis and Kansas City — which includes a stop in Jefferson City — was suspended Wednesday and Thursday. Passenger services moved to buses, the department said on its Traveler Information map.
The train service is expected to return on Friday.
Residents can visit jeffersoncitymo.gov to view a list of road closures and an interactive flood view map, as well as read the city's flood action plan.
The Jefferson City Public Works Department is the current "point of contact" for this flooding event, Morasch said. He encouraged residents to visit the city website or call the department at 573-634-6410 during business hours, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. After business hours, calls should be directed to the non-emergency number for the Jefferson City Police Department at 573-634-6400.
"We want to keep the public out of danger, and we want them to utilize these resources, calling the city," Tergin said. "We just ask the public to be diligent and be prepared. We remind them to be aware and not to drive on covered roadways — turn around, don't drown."
There have been 150,000 hits on the online flood viewer since Tuesday, Morasch said early Wednesday morning.
While the flood view map gives a general idea of what areas could flood, city staff said, they warned about flash flooding, especially since rain is in the forecast this weekend.
"People who have flooded in the past from flash floods, I would be wary if I were in those areas about getting rainfall, especially with the river up this high, through this weekend until the river goes down," Morasch said. "This is all river flooding, so any rainfall or precipitation events in the city that are likely to happen while this is happening could add on to this."
The Waste Water Regional Treatment Plant should remain in operation throughout the flood event since it was elevated above the 1993 flood level, Morasch said.
The city began moving planes and equipment at the Jefferson City Memorial Airport on Tuesday, and the airport will be closed during the flood, Morasch added.
The Salute to Veterans Airshow scheduled for this weekend was canceled Tuesday due to anticipated flooding. The parade is still scheduled for Monday morning, but the parade chair will decide today whether to cancel or change the parade route, Tergin said.
The city has also placed sandbags around the Washington Park Ice Arena.
City staff has coordinated with Ameren to disconnect electricity to affected city buildings, Jefferson City Operations Director Britt Smith said. If private owners want to disconnect electricity, he added, they must call Ameren.
This article was updated at 3:30 p.m. May 22, 2019, with additional details.