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Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

Residents forced to leave homes; many roads closed

Thursday, March 20, 2008

(Photo)
A Scott County Sheriff's deputy maps the county's road closings
(Photos by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
BENTON -- As temperatures dipped into the 40s and rain continued to fall across the region Wednesday, some north Scott County residents living in low-lying areas were forced to evacuate their homes.

Around 9 a.m. the lower Caney Basin levee overflowed on the north end, and residents of the area located between Chaffee and Oran, were among those who evacuated.

"As water accumulates and pushes down, the levee breaks, culverts erode, and water is pushed into low-lying areas," said Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger.

Sandbagging efforts by landowners began soon after, and by 2 p.m. the breach of the basin, which is part of the Little River Drainage District, was stabilized by sandbagging and efforts continued. The Caney Basin area, Perkins and other nearby towns were in danger of flooding, Burger said.

"We have had excessive flooding that started throughout the northwest corner of the county, and now it's pretty much throughout the entire county," said Joel Evans, Scott County Emergency Management director.

(Photo)
Water flows into the Sikeston Sports Complex following 4.56 inches of rain that fell Monday through Wednesday in SikestonWater flows into the Sikeston Sports Complex following the heavy rain
Countless homes have reported water in their basements and several homes remain at risk of flooding in Scott County, Evans said early Wednesday. High waters also forced a tractor in the Oran area and a school bus (not carrying students) near Vanduser off the roadway on Wednesday morning.

Many city, county and state roads were covered partially or completely by water throughout Scott County, forcing several to be closed. However, by Wednesday afternoon many roads were reopened.

Besides high waters near Chaffee and Oran, there was also flooding along the Mississippi River in Commerce, Evans said.

Due to flooding and septic concerns, residents of the Chaffee Nursing Center were evacuated to nursing home facilities in Cape Girardeau, Charleston and Kennett.

"We had some misinformation the Diversion Channel failed or is at risk of failing. This is a false statement. The diversion channel is sound and intact," said Shawn Wood, Scott County Emergency Operation Center public information officer.

(Photo)
As rain falls, a volunteer loads a sandbag into the bed of a truck Wednesday at the Scott County Highway Dept.
Ironically, county officials were in the middle of a two-day mandatory disaster preparedness training session when the flooding began Tuesday and the levee breached Wednesday.

"We went from a textbook to on-the-job training," Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn said.

County officials quickly put their knowledge to use and set up an Emergency Operation Center late Wednesday morning at the Scott County Communication Center.

"We've had a vast amount of volunteers who have rallied to offer their support and help save several homes," Burger said, referring to the 50 or so people who've volunteered so far.

Besides Scott County Jail inmates, volunteers from the community filled sandbags at the Scott County Highway Department in Benton. Members of the Sikeston Jaycees were among those who volunteered Wednesday to fill sandbags.

"We can't thank the Jaycees enough. Anything they're ever called on to do, they do," Ziegenhorn said.

Sikeston Jaycee Matt Drake said it was an easy decision to help out.

"This is what we're all about as a club -- we want to help others," Drake said. "Hopefully, (the sandbags we fill) will help keep out enough water to prevent damage."

On Wednesday New Madrid County Highway Department workers inspected roads, checking for washed out areas and will continue to do so until the water recedes, said Donnie Brown, highway engineer for the county.

"We've really been lucky compared to the people in Cape and Jackson," Brown said.

Most of the county roads affected by rain are located near the Mississippi River, which included county roads 404, 405, 733 and 711, Brown said.

New Madrid County Emergency Management Director David McClarty said the county is experiencing ordinary flooding.

"In Lilbourn there was water over the road, and we initially set up an irrigation pump to drain the water, but the water receded and we never had to start the pump," McClarty said.

Also a grocery store in Risco experienced flooding inside, and the county's highway department sandbagged the area, McClarty said.

"As long as we get only light to moderate rain, we'll be OK," McClarty said about the next few days.

The biggest problem for the region over the next few days would be runoff into the Little River, which runs from the Diversion Channel and breaks into five channels at Kennett, McClarty said.

"We've got water everywhere -- up on roads and across the roads -- but nothing dangerous or permanent," said Mississippi County Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg.

Blumenberg said rain didn't begin coming down hard until about 6 p.m. Tuesday, and it continued through Wednesday so rainfall totals weren't as much as other counties.

Meanwhile, sandbags are available for municipalities and individuals needing bags in Scott County. The bags may be picked up at the corner of Mack and Chester streets in Benton until 4 p.m.

Additional help to fill sandbags in the Benton area is needed. Any group or individuals who would like to volunteer should contact the Scott County EOC at (573) 545-3549.