by Dave Kinnamon
Platte County is drying out, so to speak, and rapidly recovering from last week’s flooding, flooding that caused many people eerie tensions as they recalled the devastating Flood of 1993.
As of Tuesday morning, 20 Platte County roads and three Platte County bridges had sustained significant damage as a result of the spot flooding, according to Greg Sager, Platte County director of public works.
Fortunately for Platte Countians and all other Missourians, the flood waters are receding to safe levels all across the state. In most places, it was not the Flood of 1993 revisited.
It will be the “Thank the Lord, Relatively Minor Flooding of 2007.” (See flood photos on this page as well as pages B-1 and B-8).
According to Deputy Michael O’Neal, of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department, there are a few county roads and bridges still under water. But the Platte River, as of Tuesday morning, was at 18 feet and dropping rapidly. The Platte River’s flood stage is 20 feet, O’Neal said.
O’Neal coordinates the flood response for the Platte County Office of Emergency Management.
The Platte River at Tracy crested at 32.5 ft. Friday morning.
In the Flood of 1993, the Platte crested at 35 feet, but in 1993 there wasn’t the “rushing water” like there was this year. There has also been more erosion to the sides of the river banks since 1993, O’Neal said. The river levels were checked by county employees every hour along the Highway 92 bridge.
“Sharp’s Station will be the one that we’ll constantly keep an eye on. That one’s the tell-tale story,” O’Neal said.
Flood damage assessment and repair will be expensive to Platte County, officials said.
“When you have rushing water for days pounding against the roads it takes it toll,” said one Platte County public works official, “We have to inspect the underside to be sure the ground can hold up the road.”
As of Tuesday morning, the following Platte Roads were still closed due to flood waters:
Humphrey’s Road at Platte River
Platte River Road in Farley
Algiers Road at Mellon Bridge Road to one mile north
Elm Grove Road (southernmost end)
Mellon Bridge Road (east end)
Woolston Road (west end - river bottoms)
Edgerton Junction Road between DD and Buena Vista
Union Mill Road (north of Edgerton)
Dicks Creek Road (intersection of E Highway)
Cockriel Road near Dick’s Creek Road.
Motorists can check with the Platte County Public Works Department at 858-1942 for updated road conditions.
Dana Babcock, Platte County director of administration, issued the following official statement:
“With recent rains and subsequent flooding in some areas of Platte County, Missouri, the county is concerned with people who might have incurred flooding damage to structures. Damaged buildings located in a flood plain may be repaired only in accordance with the Platte County Floodplain Management Construction Guidelines. A flood repair permit is required before starting repairs. Building permit fees for flood damage repair will be waived. Starting repairs before obtaining a permit is a violation of the law.”
For assistance in obtaining a permit, contact the Platte County Planning and Zoning office at 816-858-3380.
FEMA BUYOUT AIDS TRACY
The flooding in Missouri this past week caused significant damage along various rivers. But it could have been much worse.
After the historic Midwest floods of 1993, many Missouri communities chose to participate in acquisition projects to purchase flood-prone residential structures – commonly known as the federal buyout program.
The program, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and administered by the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), combined funding through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, and Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).
The city of Tracy chose to participate and eventually 17 properties were acquired. The buyouts cost nearly $450,000 at the time, with FEMA funds providing about $175,000 and HUD CDBG funds about $272,000.
This week, the payoff on the investment was realized, as Missouri River water levels exceeded 1993 levels in certain areas.
“The 17 properties acquired through the buyout would have been inundated by water,” said Dick Hainje, FEMA Region VII Administrator. “This would have left residents stranded and cost the city and home owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive flood recovery efforts and repairs.”
Hainje added that all properties purchased through the HMGP must be deed restricted in perpetuity for open space purposes, forever eliminating the damage-repair-damage cycle.
Local officials agreed.
“(Tracy) would have been in a lot of trouble if it weren’t for the buyout,” said Captain Mark Owen of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department as he surveyed the damage Friday.
He added that he had spoken with a few residents who opted not to take the buyout offer in 1994 and now wish they had. FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.
(Melinda Andre, a free lance writer of Platte City, contributed to this report.)