Flood cleanup underway in Cassville, Roaring River

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Jerry Enloe, left, and Christine Peck, employees of the Park Store at Roaring River State Park, look over the bridge Wednesday to check out the debris washed along the river during Tuesday's floods. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

30 businesses in the city see damage; state park remains closed

Cleanup efforts are underway in Cassville and at Roaring River State Park after flash floods on Tuesday struck about 30 businesses in the city and left portions of the city parks damaged.

City of Cassville

Sam Patel, manager and owner of the Budget Inn on Highway 76, pulls bedding off his beds in rooms on the first floor of his motel. Patel said the motel will likely be closed for about a week to 10 days while the cleanup takes place. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Flat Creek, considered to be in flood stage at 7 feet, crested at 19.84 feet in Jenkins at 1 p.m. Tuesday, which did not help already-flooded businesses along Main Street, Highway 76 and Highway 248, including the Budget Inn, Motor Inn, White Funeral Home, Dollar General, Papa Vape's, Cindy's Pets, JT's Barbershop the Barry County Neighborhood Center, El Mariachi's, MFA, T.H. Rogers, all the businesses in Carr Plaza and many more.

Dana Kammerlohr, Cassville police chief, said she and Det. Danny Boyd went to each of the businesses on Wednesday to survey the damage.

"Damage was anywhere from slight to extensive," she said. "I'm not a trained assessor, but I think White Funeral Home was probably hit the worst. Most of the owners are having a laugh now because that's all they can do, but it's disappointing and disheartening with all the merchandise damaged or repairs that need to be made to buildings."

Kammerlohr said the department is now working to get aid to families who have been displaced or had their homes flooded.

"We are working with David Compton and Barry County Emergency Management in getting assistance to people," she said. "Thursday, we [had] two agencies coming to town to help in the cleanup."

According to Don Underwood, public affairs volunteer with the American Red Cross, the organization assisted one family in Cassville, as one adult and four children needed assistance for one night with lodging and food due to damage to their apartment.

Fast-flowing water at Roaring River State Park did its own form of redecorating, leaving a layer of silt over concrete areas and washing some of the picnic tables into tress an even into the playground area near the CCC Pavilion. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

The Red Cross has also issued 60-plus cleanup kits in Barry, Webster, Greene, Christian and Stone counties, including 20 kits going to the city of Cassville. Each kit contains bleach, heavy-duty cleaner, Pine-Sol, gloves, a mop, a squeegee, a broom and a scrub brush.

The city of Cassville continued its efforts Wednesday, and Steve Walensky, Cassville public works director, said the city had opened all roads, except for the low-water bridge on Seventh Street, and his department is working to assess damages.

"It's too muddy to start with the cleanup right now," he said. "We are trying to get a grasp on the total damage and what the impending weather will do, but it seems like we'll be OK."

Damage-wise, Walensky said the city was struck hard, especially at the city parks and along the Greenway Trail.

"The walking bridge from the Greenway behind Rowdy Beaver and to the Aquatic Center is destroyed," he said. "It is off its footings and bent in half, and we'll have to get a crane in the to pull it out and cut it up. The Aquatic Center is fine, and the 13th Street bridge is open, even though water had gone over it and the side of the road has deteriorated."

One of the hardest-hit areas included the city park, where Walensky said the playground equipment, fencing and dugouts at the ball fields sustained serious damage.

"The park is not closed," he said. "The basketball and tennis courts are up and running, and the restrooms and horseshoe portions are fine, but the rest of the park is basically unusable. Both playgrounds got torn up, and lots of fencing and the dugouts at the ball fields are damaged. Parts of the Greenway Trail will also need to be rebuilt.

Scott Cleveland, with Final Solution Services, vacuums the wet carpet in one of the rooms at the Budget Inn Wednesday. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

"We are trying to keep people off the Greenway and we've taped up anything that is dangerous. The [gravel] ramps up to the bridge at Rocky Edmondson Park are gone, so you can't even use it."

Walensky said monetary estimates for damages have yet to be figured, as the city is still assessing its properties.

"City hall took on some water in the garage, but the vehicles were out of the way, so it just made a mess," he said. "Right now, we are just inventorying and identifying everything that was damaged."

Walensky said city and county representatives are scheduled to meet with the Federal Emergency Management Administration today to discuss damages and possible aid.

Gail Reed, director of the Ozark Area Community Action Corporation's Barry County Neighborhood Center, said Wednesday brought a lot of cleanup efforts, as the building's garage took in about a foot of water, and the main lobby was covered in a few inches as well.

"We are just cleaning up the debris and the muck, so the floors will have to be cleaned, but there was not a lot of damage to the building, or to our equipment, like our computers," she said. "The garage full of Christmas, Halloween and household items that were donated got about a foot of water, so we will lose a lot of that. Some of it is salvageable, but everything on the bottom is bad now.

The bridge between the Cassville Aquatic Center and the Greenway Trail was destroyed in the floods Tuesday. Public Works Director Steve Walensky said the bridge is damaged beyond repair, and the city will have to get a crane to pull it out and cut it up before building a new one. Contributed photo

"When we got in [Wednesday], the [main lobby] floor was full of debris, and we don't even know how that all got in. It's amazing to me."

Reed said the center will look to replace the donated items down the road, as efforts right now are focused on the cleanup.

Sam Patel, manager and owner of the Budget Inn on Highway 76, said water from the creek had flooded across the highway and about 18 inches of water was rushing past the building and into the lower rooms within a matter of 15 minutes.

"We had one customer in a lower room, but he had already evacuated," he said. "We had people who had to be evacuated from the second floor, [with the help of McDonald County's mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP]."

Patel said he has put a call into his insurance company and is working on getting things back in order.

"We're getting everything cleaned up because we can't afford to lose money," he said. "We are closed now, and I'm not sure when we will open back up -- maybe in a week or 10 days. It will take that long to do the cleanup."

Owner of the motel for seven years, Patel said he had never seen such flooding before.

"I'm always prepared, but that's life," he said.

Barry County

Cherry Warren, presiding commissioner, said he has been visiting with road districts and assessing damage, especially in Mineral Springs, which was hit the hardest.

"The north and west ends of the county did not see any damage," he said. "Wheaton got about 2 inches and Exeter got about 3 inches. Mineral Springs has the largest amount of damage."

Warren said some roads in that area have holes 4-5 feet deep, caused by erosion from the fast-moving water.

"We had some reports they had up to 9 inches, but most areas saw about 5-7 inches, and it came pretty fast and in a short period of time," he said. "Mineral Springs' runoff is pretty fast because of the hills there, and a lot of the road bed is also the creek bed."

Warren said he had not heard of any bridges damaged, other than some erosion at the ends, and there was no damage to any road district property or equipment.

"What we tell the road districts is to get the roads passable, take pictures and keep good records of the time spent, and they should get reimbursed," he said. "We've had numerous disasters, and most of the road districts are familiar with what they need to do."

Warren said he believes the county will reach the $130,000 in damages to qualify for a disaster declaration, especially because of all the damage in Mineral Springs.

"I'm relatively sure we'll get a declaration," he said. "I don't know exactly how much damage was in Mineral Springs, but the city of Cassville had quite a bit, too."

Warren said FEMA representatives should be on hand today morning to determine the county's eligibility.

Rescues

Kammerlohr said her department spent Tuesday working with the sheriff's office and other agencies rescuing those who were trapped or in danger.

"There were eight from the Budget Inn, and two or three families at the Motor Inn," she said. "There was one family, and a dog in the subdivision off Clover, and we rescued someone from a car out on Sale Barn Road. Everyone assisted everyone else, and it was a joint effort."

According to Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff, much of the damage in the county centered at Roaring River State Park, which saw erosion and damage after water rose 4-6 feet in about 10 minutes, scattering debris across the park and forcing evacuations of campers and staff.

"Damage went as far as Eagle Rock and Shell Knob, where some culverts were washed out and will have to be attended to," Epperly said. "Part of Farm Road 1132 also washed out, and there was water over the roadway in Jenkins, so we had to keep the barricades up until that went down."

The sheriff's office was out in force Tuesday performing rescues with its Hummer, and with the help of the Department of Conservation's boat and McDonald County's MRAP. Epperly said about 12-15 people in total had to be rescued from rushing water by the sheriff's office, including two employees at the Neighborhood Center.

"We were worried we would get trapped and we were trying to get out," Reed said. "In a space of about 10 minutes, we had water all around the building and coming into the building. It was scary.

"It made me feel really good to see the sheriff pulling in with the Hummer to get us. We laughed about it [Wednesday] morning, because there was no way we could have gotten out of there. We would have been sitting on tables waiting for the water to go down."

Epperly said McDonald County's MRAP and the Cassville Fire Protection District were also performing rescues. No one at the district could be reached for comment.

"They may have rescued just as many as we did," Epperly said.

Reed said as fast as the water rose, she was glad to have law enforcement nearby with equipment to help.

"I told Chief Kammerlohr and the sheriff we really appreciate all they were doing with the rescues, and how everyone was working together," she said.

Roaring River State Park

Paul Spurgeon, manager of the Roaring River Hatchery, which is part of the Department of Conservation, said the hatchery fared well throughout the flooding.

"We did not lose any fish," he said. "The water got up around the pools, but our crews kept the fish safe and sound."

Spurgeon said no buildings were damaged, but much of the park was littered with debris and heavy silt, and there was erosion by the bridges.

"We had silt several inches deep, a lot of driftwood and some stream damage to the baffles and gravel," he said. "We have the MDC crews out here and excavators with Bobcats and dump trucks cleaning it all up. [On Wednesday we were] trying to clear the bridge in front of the old CCC Lodge. It was covered with debris and there was severe erosion where the banks were cut down on both sides."

Spurgeon said the last major flood in the park was in 2011, and damage is about similar now as it was then, but in different areas.

"Each flood is different," he said. "This one tore up things that didn't get torn up last time, and it didn't tear up things this time that were torn up last time. We had a lot more debris and silt this time.

"No two floods are alike -- they are like snowflakes."

Those who visit the park will not have much to do, as most areas have been taped off due to damage and cleanup efforts. A time for the park to fully reopen has yet to be determined.

Steph Deidrick, information specialist for Missouri State Parks, did not return a message, nor an email, for comment.

National Weather Service

According to the National Weather Service in Springfield, Cassville saw 5.65 inches of rain on Tuesday, and some locales may have seen 6 inches or more.

Eric Wise, meteorologist, said the weekend will begin to dry the area out.

"This weekend, temperatures will be about 90 degrees with heat indexes approaching 100," he said.

Wise said Flat Creek in Jenkins crested at 19.84 inches on Tuesday at 1 p.m., well over the 7-foot flood stage.

As of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, readings showed the creek at 7.64 feet.

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