Roaring River State Park manager honored

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Kerry Hays, Roaring River State Park manager, helps a customer on the phone while at work in the park office. Hays was named the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' December Employee of the Month in 2015, for his actions during the July 2015 flooding. While only a flash flood watch was in effect, Hays received a report of atypical flooding in Campground 1, which is usually the last to flood, and quickly evacuated all three campgrounds, minutes before flooding took a turn for the worst and a flash flood emergency took effect. Julia Kilmer

State Employee of the Month award given to Hays

Roaring River State Park Manager Kerry Hays has been named the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' December 2015 Employee of the Month.

Hays was recognized due to his quick response to the July 2015 flash flood watch at the park, which turned into a devastating, flash flood emergency. Hays' response was described as critical because, at the time, only a watch had been issued, and further action by his team was not required. But, his instincts pressed him to act differently.

"In times of emergency, Kerry's team displays the true value and skill of its leadership," said Kim Todey, assistant district supervisor of Missouri State Parks' Ozarks District, who also nominated Hays for the award. "They work tirelessly for our park guests."

Hays made a judgement call to evacuate the park when the water level of the river measured more than three feet below flood stage. Hays made the decision after staff reported rapidly-rising water in Campground 1, which is unusual and normally last to flood. By 8:10 a.m. guests in all three campgrounds were evacuated. By 8:15 a.m. the river had risen beyond the flood stage to 4.89 feet.

At 10 a.m., the National Weather Service called Hays, who reported the flood condition, prompting the agency to issue a flash flood Emergency for the area. By 11:30 a.m., the river had risen to 9.4 feet, the second highest level recorded. Hays said public safety was his number one concern and the reason behind his decision to order the evacuation.

Hays has worked at the park since 2009, being named park manager in 2014, and resides in Cassville.

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