Record flooding hit the Pulaski County region from April 29 through April 30, 2017, with waters still rising in areas down river. The flooding claimed the life of a teenage boy and destroyed the community of Devils Elbow.
Record breaking flood waters hit Pulaski County over the weekend causing extensive damage, claiming one life, and destroying the historical community of Devils Elbow.
The extent of the damage can't be assessed yet as flood waters have not receded enough, but the Pulaski County Commission discussed what they were aware of at Monday morning's commission meeting and received an update from Pulaski County Emergency Manager Lawson "Smitty" Smith and Pulaski County Sheriff Jimmy Bench.
The destruction of Devils Elbow and the death of Gideon Jenkins, 18, were leading topics of discussion during the meeting.
Jenkins attempted to cross a low water crossing, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and his vehicle was swept away by flood waters. Jenkins girlfriend posted, in a public post on Facebook, that they were driving and didn't realize the roadway on Buffalo Road was flooding when the car was swept away. She escaped through a window, with his urging, according to the post, "got stuck on a barb wire fence," finally let go hitting two logs and Jenkins' car, eventually she made it to "dry land" and walked to find help.
Crocker School District posted its condolences to the family and friends of the Crocker Senior on Facebook, Monday morning.
"In our sorrow, let us remember all of the good things that Gideon stood for," from the Crocker Board of Education, Administration and Staff.
While Crocker lost a young man to the flood waters, the community of Devils Elbow has been devastated by damage.
Smith said, "Devils Elbow is gone," while discussing the issue at Monday's County Commission meeting.
The Daily Guide was on the scene in Devils Elbow Sunday morning before the flood waters rose high enough to close the road and witnessed some houses immersed in water. Video of the area is available at www.waynesvilledailyguide.com.
Smith said the water in Devils Elbow rose up over the historical Route 66 Devils Elbow bridge and hit the roof of the Elbow Inn.
Newkirk said a house "came loose" and crashed into another house. The Daily Guide received a submitted photo of Sheldon's Market immersed in water, as well as other photos from Devils Elbow residents of the flood water as it began to rise.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol began asking Devils Elbow residents in flood danger areas to begin evacuation Sunday.
Devils Elbow was not the only place asked to evacuate due to flooding in Pulaski County. Waynesville had to ask some residents to evacuate as well thanks to the flooding Roubidoux.
The Roubidoux left its banks and flooded a large portion of the area surrounding the City Park and Laughlin Park, causing people living in homes nearby to have to evacuate.
Pulaski County Commission, the city of Waynesville, and the city of St. Robert all signed a proclamation Sunday declaring a state of emergency due to flooding.
St. Robert Mayor George Lauritson stopped in at the Pulaski County Commission meeting Monday and briefly discussed the flooding at the St. Robert Sewer Plant. He told commissioners that the damage would be lessened because the city had taken precautions moving equipment out before the flood waters reached the facility.
Additionally, Fort Leonard Wood is asking residents to conserve water. The military base is under a "mandatory water conservation order" due to flooding impacting the base's pump station.
Smith informed commissioners that his office was already trying to come up with numbers of properties damaged for use with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and SEMA (State Emergency Management Agency).
Presiding Commissioner Gene Newkirk said, "They don't pay" and went on to describe a process of doing what FEMA asks, submitting paperwork for repayment, and being denied.
"They say we're not paying for it," Newkirk said.
Before the County Commission meeting began, the Daily Guide discussed FEMA with Newkirk, Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink, and Easter District Commissioner Lynn Sharp.
Newkirk told the Daily Guide that because FEMA hasn't paid out for projects from the 2013 and 2015 floods, the current flood would "bankrupt road and bridge."
"You have to spend your money and then FEMA reimburses you, but right now they're owed so much money from FEMA, from projects done, that they've emptied their till doing those projects waiting for FEMA's money to come in and FEMA has not produced the money. So right now with this flood starting they're sitting there with no money," Newkirk said.
The Daily Guide will be taking a tour with Zweerink Tuesday to document flood damage in the county and that story will be in Thursday's newspaper.