In a candid interview, Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman expressed her condolences to a local family, her thoughts on reacting to the recent flood, and her analysis of the upcoming recovery process:
On the Lee family deaths:
"The City of Waynesville is still grieving the death of the young family, Jessica and Ely Lee. Their funerals will be coming up Wednesday. I do believe that the community will turn out in large numbers to pay respects to this young family. We're very, very sad that that happened. Lucky on one hand that we only had just a few injuries, maybe six injuries, but very sad that we lost this young family."
An update on City of Waynesville accomplishments:
"We've actually moved from the response mode to the recovery mode and we were working hard Friday. Saturday our people worked, [Sunday] we kind of took the day off, even though our volunteers were out mudding homes and trying to get out there and help the people that really, really needed it. Right now our town is full of that flood smell, and [Monday] has been focusing on public health issues – trying to clear the streets of a lot of the trash and stuff that maybe is decaying and creating that smell. We're very concerned about mosquitoes, flies, things like that. That's kind of been our focus. We have also been spending a lot of time on our infrastructure, making sure that our water, electricity, [and] everything is up … I believe we have it all under control. The other thing we've been doing has created a hectic day for me, and that's dealing with all the agencies that have arrived to town. Of course we've been welcoming [Missouri State Emergency Management Agency]. We've been welcoming [community faith-based organizations]. [Monday] afternoon we had a very important meeting discussing what was ahead of us for the multi-agency resource center (MARC) meetings … We're going to have agencies from all over the state here … I do believe that, even though I'm the mayor, and I'm the leader of the agencies, I also believe that one of my most important roles is that I am the encourager. I have been out today hugging a lot of people. There's been a lot of crying going on. People need reassuring that hopefully next week is going to be better, and that's what we've been trying to do."
On an abundance of volunteers in the area:
"We have a Pulaski County coalition – all of those groups are spear-heading the volunteers, and as all these hundreds, literally hundreds [of volunteers] – people want to help so much, but sometimes having 100 people can be more of a problem than having 10. There areas of the town that we don't want, for example, kids to go into. There are a lot of kid groups that want to get out and clean up; well it's dangerous. We don't want those people in those areas yet. I'm really relying, and our city is relying on our Good Samaritan group, our Co-AG group, and of course the people who are associated with Red Cross. We're relying on those people to help us a lot … There's no better place to live in the country. Forty years ago I moved here to live in Waynesville; I love Waynesville. And one reason that I love Waynesville is because of what has happened this week. It doesn't make any difference who that person was, they were willing to help … As this was beginning to happen, I had 60 messages on Facebook; I got home and I had 50 emails. Not one of [the messages or emails] used the word me, and that's what kind of community we are."
On reacting to the storm:
"I think the thing that I noticed first last week was the adrenaline that was moving so quickly, and everybody was reacting. By Saturday it had sunk in, what had actually happened and how stressed out people became. We did have some confrontations with people and had to calm people down, and so we went from that adrenaline response to that stress response. [Monday], I'm seeing a desperation response that people are desperate because they want some answers and they want some hope. If you looked at our streets, and gone up and down some of these heavily affected streets, you can see that, for many of these families, their lives are laying out on the curb. Many of them are just lost; they don't know what they're going to do."