A week after heavy rains flooded Harrisonville residence and businesses, more than a dozen people directed complaints, questions and concerns to city leaders Tuesday night during a town hall meeting.
The city of Harrisonville organized the town hall to gather information from residents affected by the Aug. 22 flooding and to let citizens know what they were doing in response. City leaders and staff, as well as State Rep. Donna Pfautsch, were on hand to hear comments from flood victims regarding their experiences and problems they’ve had.
Nearly 100 people attended the town hall Tuesday at the Harrisonville Community Center. The meeting lasted for more than two hours during which several residents criticized the city for a lack of communication and lack of help. It had been the second time in less than a month that flood waters rushed into dozens of Harrisonville homes and businesses.
A group of residents on Walker Drive expressed disappointment and demanded answers from city leaders after sewage backed up in their houses and water seeped into their homes from rising water levels in Muddy Creek.
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“The city never came out for anything,” said Pina Murphy, a homeowner who lives on Walker Drive. “No one reached out to us.”
City Administrator Happy Welch said the city was making a list of homes and businesses hit by the most recent flooding. Welch pointed to four significant rains the city has dealt with this summer, including the flash flooding events on July 26 to 27 and Aug. 22. Inches of rain in a short amount of time severely impacted the city, Welch said.
Welch also shared information on the city’s efforts to attain federal assistance and the next steps they’re taking in what officials described as a long process.
“Our building department has been out talking to a lot of homeowners, gathering information,” Welch said, addressing the crowd Tuesday.
“We have collected that and sent it to the State Emergency Management Agency. They will be collecting the data from all of Cass County and Jackson County and then they will let us know what we need to do next, because if we’re looking for any type of federal assistance, we have to go through State Emergency Management and then they go through the numbers.”
Harrisonville EMS Director Eric Myler said preliminary disaster assessments estimating damage done by the flood waters Aug. 22 in the city were submitted to the county late last week.
Those figures, as city leaders explained, are 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.
The minimum dollar amount the county needs to report to declare a local emergency is $351,000. The minimum dollar amount the state needs to declare a disaster is about $8 million, city leaders said during Tuesday’s meeting.
If the state declares a disaster for the area, it’s then up to the federal government to approve the governor’s request for a major disaster declaration, which would open up federal assistance to flood victims.
Two days after the Aug. 22 flooding, Cass County Presiding Commissioner Jeff Cox submitted a proclamation and declared a local emergency for the second time within a month. The county’s declaration was made as a prelude to a request for federal assistance. From there, the county’s preliminary damage estimates are expected to be sent to Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency.
Cox noted that “extreme flooding” on Aug. 22 created poor road conditions, power outages, telephone service outage, fallen trees, downed electrical lines, loss of water supply and damage to public facilities throughout Cass County.
The flooding also resulted in damage to the lower lake dam at Harrisonville City Park and extensive damage to county roads, Cox said.
Harrisonville city staff and police feared the dam would break on the morning of Aug. 22 after the city received 7 to 8 inches of rain overnight; however, the city announced shortly thereafter in a Facebook post that repairs to the dam had been completed to temporarily fix an area of erosion, avoiding a potential disaster.
Mayor Brian Hasek wrapped up the town hall meeting after two hours on Tuesday night, and said future updates for residents and businesses affected by the recent flooding are expected to be posted on the city of Harrisonville website as well as on the city’s Facebook page.
“I know some people still have questions. I know some of your questions did not get answered. We do have a lot of things we need to address,” Hasek said.
“There are obviously some weaknesses in the city. We’ve all identified that. The biggest challenge that we’re going to face in any of this is...it all comes down to money.”