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Flood waters creep into Mokane

Flood waters creep into Mokane

May 24th, 2019 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

Ethan Livengood drives cautiously through the floodwaters May 22, 2019, at the Missouri 94/Route C intersection in Mokane, Mo.

Photo by Helen Wilbers /News Tribune.

MOKANE, Mo. — On Thursday morning, Mokane's River Street was an actual river.

Or maybe it was more of a backwater. Nearby creeks, already swollen from recent rain, expanded overnight into standing lakes.

Stand and watch long enough, and you'll see fish jumping near the tiny historic jail and at the Lions building's doorstep. You'll also get covered in mosquitoes, already out for blood.

And on Thursday morning, the flood was still growing.

"The water's not deep yet," said Ethan Livengood, who lives east of town on Missouri 94. He ventured into town through the pond that was the Route C/94 intersection. "My house's flooded in."

Jamie Dudley stood at the water's edge, watching more trucks ford the intersection. Through the trees, he could see a trailer those trucks were heading toward, just southwest of the intersection. That trailer was an island in the midst of brown floodwater.

"Don't try that," he cautioned, gesturing toward the vehicles. "Our friends had to evacuate last night."

A drive on the gravel between Mokane and Tebbetts revealed plenty of downed limbs and rain-damaged roads, though there was no immediately visible sign of Wednesday night's tornado. Dudley confirmed the tornado that tore through nearby Jefferson City missed Mokane entirely. So far, as he knows, no one's stranded, he added.

Mokane residents and business owners aren't sure how high the water will get — the current National Weather Service hydrologic forecast predicts the Missouri River will crest at 31.8 feet — but they're doing their best to prepare.

"We live in Portland, so we're staying at a friend's house in Fulton for a few days," Jamie Byrne, co-owner of the Mokane Bar and Grill, said. "Route O's under water, so I don't think I could even get home right now."

She said the bar's coolers have been raised in hopes of protecting them if water creeps into the building.

"We're pretty much used to it," Byrne said. "(Flooding) happens every two or three years. It's just going to be a little higher this year."

A group of locals sipping coffee at the Mokane Market reminisced about riding boats through town during the record-setting Flood of 1993.

"What are you going to worry about?" Gary McCray asked rhetorically.

The water is coming, whether Mokane's residents worry or not.