Government & Politics

Parson: FEMA surveying 7 Missouri counties to assess damage from floods

High waters at Riverfront Park in Atchison, Kan., last month.
High waters at Riverfront Park in Atchison, Kan., last month.

Although water remains in many Missouri towns, Gov. Mike Parson has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make preliminary damage assessments of seven counties, including Atchison, Holt and Buchanan counties.

Those assessments will play a big role in the state’s application for a federal disaster declaration from President Trump, which is needed to receive aid. Parson took the first step by declaring a state of emergency March 21.

“Although the floodwaters have not fully receded, it’s already clear that the damage from the historic flooding has been devastating for some Missouri communities,” Parson said in a statement.

Other counties in the preliminary damage assessment include Ray, New Madrid, Andrew and Mississippi counties. More will be added as floodwaters pull back and more damage becomes apparent.

For the state to qualify for public assistance, there must be near $9 million in flood damage statewide. The hardest hit counties -- Atchison, Holt and Buchanan -- must have about $21,500, $18,500 and $337,200 in damage, respectively, to qualify. The figures are based on population.

Public assistance dollars goes toward repairing infrastructure.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has already found that the U.S. Route 159 bridge over the Little Tarkio Creek has irreparable damage and needs a complete replacement. In Atchison County, the road leading to the US-136 bridge at Phelps City has been washed away.

Whether a county qualifies for federal aid for homes, known as individual assistance, is based the number and degree of homes damaged. Those with damage to their homes should report it their local county emergency manager.

Parson, along with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, have been pressing for more answers on the flood and calling for change to the Army Corps’ river management practices. They met in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Wednesday, with the Army Corps of Engineers. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly was scheduled to attend but couldn’t due to travel difficulties.

Parson said he would take his issues to Washington, if need be.

Next week, a multi-agency resource center will offer services from noon to 7 p.m. for those affected by the floods in northwest Missouri.

On Monday, the center will be opened in Velma Houts Building, 201 E. Highway 136, in Rockport.

On Tuesday, it will be open at Keys Christian Church Gymnasium, 6001 S. Ninth St., in St. Joseph.

On Wednesday, Mound City R-2 Multi-Purpose Room at 708 Nebraska St. will serve as Holt County’s resource center.