CRAIG, Mo. | Bill Hale waits for the slow death.
By MATT PEARCE
The Kansas City Star
Thats what the 56-year-old calls the coming waters the slow death creeping silently through the farmlands outside his house, rising beneath the cornstalks.
Hes ready: 60 gallons of drinking water, 60 days worth of military prepackaged meals and a beat-up dinghy he plans to rope to the back of his two-story home.
Ive made my life here, Hale said Tuesday, gesturing at his neighborhood, tucked just inside a temporary earthen levee that remains the towns last line of defense against floodwaters. All my neighbors this is all weve got.
Im gonna be here until I have to step off my roof and into my boat.
Yet many of his neighbors may not be there to watch.
Craigs city board handed down a mandatory, 48-hour evacuation order noon Tuesday, and around town, residents busied themselves, hauling furniture and appliances onto trailers. Life, for many, would have to carry on somewhere else mainly with family, on higher ground.
Craig, a community that survived the flood of 93 as the billboard next to City Hall says now must survive another.
Levees protecting this town have burst, one by one, and the river water is slowly advancing through the lush farmland in the floodplains bordering Craig, about an hour-and-a-half north of Kansas City.
At city limits, the arrival of floodwaters seems all but a foregone conclusion, with reports of defeated levees and rainstorms upstream.
Weve fought this flood tooth and toenail, said Dennis Showalter, 57, a local soil contractor whos been working on the levees. But when its all said and done, its gonna go where the Corps said itd go.
Several people brimmed with fury at the perceived mismanagement by the Army Corps of Engineers, the state and federal government, and even at people up north, whose interests many think have been put in front of their own.
Army Corps officials said Tuesday they had no options rainfall was so heavy up north that water had to be released from dams.
Terry Eaton, 64, is the city official coordinating the local disaster response. He said he hadnt heard from any state or federal officials other than a representative from Sen. Roy Blunts office.
Its easy to fly over or drive by, but it wouldnt hurt if they stopped by a bit, he said. When youre only 300 people, youre not a major concern to politics.
Eaton said there had been some confusion about the evacuation but word would get around because the town is so small.
Larry Ogden, 73, was still waiting.
Nobody informed us of what procedures we should take, he said, standing next to the sandbags mounded around the doors and vents to his red, one-story home.
The retired chef was abandoning his house, along with his prized 12-by-20-foot kitchen, to the fates and planned to go live with his brother on a Native American reservation in Iowa.
I cant afford to move anywhere else," he said.
Others planned to stay.
Sue Patterson, 70, owner of the local gas station, ran out of boxes for folks a few days ago. Now everyone is coming for food and for talk at three tables. She plans to park her motor home at the store.
David Drewes, 43, said hed built 8-foot levees around his farmhouse, which was already surrounded by water. Hed moved the last of his livestock on Monday night.
Weve got two months to put up with this, he said of the town.
Water being released from upstream dams into the Missouri River begins increasing today.
Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers had stepped up water releases from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota to 150,000 cubic feet of water per second. The plan was to keep that release rate already more than double the previous record rate through the summer.
Now, after unusually heavy rainfall over the northern part of the Missouri River, those releases are being bumped up. Today, they go to 155,000 cubic feet per second. On Thursday, they will reach 160,000, a level that the Corps expects to maintain until August.
The increased flows should be arriving in Kansas City early next week and are expected to boost the flooding river by about another half a foot in the area.