Bob Mitchell: Cassville flood problem won't solve itself

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Bob Mitchell Ozark Views & Comments

Many residents and commercial property owners in Cassville have been disappointed with flood assistance decisions by the government, even after state and national officials have visited here and seen for themselves the destruction Flat Creek provided after recent floods.

Many of the problems that exist today began back in the early 1800s, when the town of Cassville was being platted.

As were many towns in that era, locations most sought after were near a water source, such as Flat Creek. There were a number of reasons for this, none of which actually exist today.

The City of Seven Valleys was laid out, unfortunately, along some of the low areas of Flat Creek, which have been the subject of the creek creeping into properties and causing problems for residents and businesses alike.

Some of the problems in the southern part of the main business areas were thought to be solved with the installation of a storm sewer system by the Missouri Highway Department some years ago. But, during this year's rainfall situations and eventual heavy rains, this system wasn't capable of handling the water.

Flood insurance

A possible solution to some losses could have been the Federal Flood Insurance program that was turned down, somewhat flatly, by Cassville residents years ago. It might be remembered by some of those who were present at meetings that many individuals told the people making presentations that their requirements wouldn't be tolerated and that "no one is going to tell me what I have to do with my property."

That attitude might have seemed pertinent at the time, but today, there are some who might wish the insurance coverage -- not even available now -- could help them with their situation.

Certainly, those who assumed this position, at that time, had the right to do so. But knowing what Cassville knows now, was that attitude correct?

RC&D program

Later, in the flood history of Cassville, the Southwest Missouri Resources and Conservation Commission, which might even still be based in Mt. Vernon, came up with a grandiose plan to build holding basins in the areas of the Seven Valleys of Cassville to hold flood waters.

While the ideas were reasonable, there were a couple of holdbacks at the time that might still exist. They were extremely costly and landowners involved were opposed. Facts are, the costs are probably much higher these days, and property owners could have the same attitude about their holdings today.

This program is not new. Detailed plans were developed by RC&D and provided in booklets at the time of their development. Appropriate government agencies today ideally will have copies of the flood-water retention lakes and gates for the control of water rushing into Cassville from some of the Seven Valleys, but the solution might rest in a program of not building in the flood plain.

This might seem a harsh solution to the problem, but other municipalities have adopted this restriction, even going to the extent of purchasing property to remove them from the possibility of flooding.

Insurance stringent

The proposed Federal Flood Insurance program went farther than necessary in marking the flood plain in Cassville. That problem was presented initially, but didn't get past even the early presenters.

The most recent floods that twice visited Cassville over a period of a few days might be the benchmark to go by, if there was any possibility of revising the coverage possibility. That might not be possible, or even be desired, by property owners, but there has to be a solution somewhere.

Congressional people, if they want to do more than come and visit, possibly should look into the feasibility of flood insurance ever coming to Cassville. Nothing says property owners will have to purchase the coverage, but those who want loses covered would be able to insure their holdings if it were possible to readdress the program.

Not popular

Addressing the problem of flooding in Cassville in some circles still isn't popular today. But it is a "lead-pipe cinch" that simply ignoring the problem because of personal opinions or dragging up historical solutions that could remain untouchable won't get the job done.

Since the 1800s and before for many communities, water was the important factor for the location of their living areas -- some for transportation and others for consumption. Native Americans were especially noted for their residing in stream areas, a factor that might have stuck in the minds of many forefathers of today's generations.

One fact remains: Flat Creek is going to continue flowing, as will Little Troublesome and Hawk branches and, with heavy rainfalls in any direction from town, will continue to rush through property in Cassville.

The very topography of our community should tell us this long-lasting problem isn't going to disappear.

So, what program do we readdress?

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.