Cass County has declared a state of emergency one week after heavy rains caused roads, homes and businesses to flood.
In a proclamation, Presiding Commissioner Jeff Cox said the weather event caused “extreme flooding creating a disaster by creating impossible road conditions, power outages, telephone service, fallen trees, downed electrical lines, loss of water supply and damaged to public facilities” throughout the county July 26-27.
The proclamation was accepted by the county commission during its Aug. 3 meeting.
Cox said the flooding caused “extensive damage” to county roads and at least one bridge, located at 215th Street and Thorngrove outside of Peculiar.
County commissioners accepted the proclamation Thursday as a prelude to a request for federal assistance.
The flooding was considered “catastrophic” by the National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill. According to the agency, the Kansas City region, including Cass County, received 5 to 7 inches of rain. The agency said many locations experienced three-plus hours of heavy rain with precipitation rates approaching 1 to 2 inches per hour. By the early morning hours of July 27, several county roads were deemed impassable and dozens of people were evacuated from their homes and vehicles in the areas of Freeman, Lake Annette, West Line, Harrisonville and Belton.
By Friday, Cass County Emergency Management Director Stan Swaggart said the county was still collecting damage assessment figures from municipalities. The county has been gathering damage estimates categorized by individual assistance, including damage to houses and businesses, and public assistance, including debris removal, police and fire costs, road and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings and parks.
In the county, Swaggart shared estimates of at least $2.4 million in damage to housing and businesses and $1.5 million in public assistance, and the estimates are expected to be higher. The numbers the county had gathered Friday so far had not included Belton and Mount Pleasant Township, but by Monday, Swaggart said Belton submitted an estimate of $311,730 for public assistance categories. The emergency management director added that some of the damage reported in the county is covered by insurance.
The damage estimates far exceed $351,000, the minimum dollar amount in damage the county needs to report to declare a state of emergency. Swaggart said the declaration made by the county Thursday is only “the first step in the process” to become eligible for assistance from the federal government. Damage assessment in the Kansas City region was still in the works by Friday.
“This is Cass and we’ve had this problem many times in the past,” Swaggart said. “People step up and know what to do, they take care of themselves. They’re taking care of it whether the declaration comes through or not.”
The Kansas City region was hit again by heavy rains on Saturday. The National Weather Service said the weekend storms resulted in 3 to 6 inches of rain over a 4 to 6 hour period. By Monday, Cass County had no new damage reports from the recent rains.