July 08, 2010

Missouri Department of Public Safety agencies respond to flooding

Response is designed to best meet specific needs of each community

The Department of Public Safety's response to rising waters on the Missouri River and flooding in parts of northwest Missouri in June was swift and designed to best meet the specific needs of each community affected by the flooding
Director of Public Safety John M. Britt was in northwest Missouri for most of the day June 22.  He surveyed rising flood waters on land with Missouri State Highway Patrol officials, and in the air—in a Blackhawk helicopter—with Gov. Jay Nixon, Brig. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, and other officials.  The aerial tour included visiting with local officials and responders in Fortescue, in Holt County, where a sandbagging machine was being used to assist in the flood fight.
"During any emergency situation, I think it's extremely important to see for myself exactly what conditions are, to know what a community is up against and to meet with local officials and residents," said Public Safety Director Britt.  "I was extremely impressed with the efforts of local officials, emergency responders, citizens and volunteers, and by the work of the Department of Public Safety agencies that were assisting.”
View photos of the June 22 trip:
Gov. Nixon, Director Britt and Brig. Gen. Danner conducted another aerial survey of the region on June 26.  In between, Britt surveyed flood conditions along the Mississippi River in eastern Missouri from a Missouri State Water Patrol boat on June 25.
The State Emergency Management Agency had been monitoring flooding conditions and communicating with local leaders even before Gov. Nixon, on June 15, ordered the activation of the State Emergency Operations Center.  The Governor's move, the result of severe weather, rising river levels and mounting pressure on levees in northwest Missouri, allowed SEMA to better coordinate the state's response with local jurisdictions taking emergency protective actions.  On June 21, Gov. Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri, which activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan and allowed state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions to provide emergency services.
All told, SEMA coordinated and authorized a total of:
·    225,000 sandbags for the counties of Atchison, Buchanan, Holt, Pike, Ray and Saline, and the communities of Clark and Craig ·    3 pumps for Holt and Ray counties ·    3 sandbagging machines utilized by Atchison, Buchanan and Holt counties ·    Approximately 85 offenders from three area correctional centers assisted with sandbagging operations, levee reinforcement and brush clearing in northwest Missouri from June 19 through June 26.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol, beginning June 18, assigned additional troopers— working 24 hours a day—to assist local officials and residents in the flooded Big Lake area in Holt County.  By June 23, the MSHP effort had expanded, including using commercial vehicle officers to staff checkpoints on closed roads in northwest Missouri. 
Beginning June 17, the Missouri State Water Patrol assigned additional officers—working 24 hours a day—to patrolling Big Lake in Holt County.  Water Patrol officers assisted in evacuating residents, checking on the well being of residents who remained in flooded areas, assisting the Humane Society with animal evacuations, conducting levee assessments and transporting local, state and federal officials conducting damage assessments and providing security.
On June 23, Gov. Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard to provide emergency assistance to residents of northwest Missouri.  The governor took the action in response to notification from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that same day that it would release more water from the upper Missouri River at the Gavins Point reservoir, increasing the flow of the Missouri River.
By the following night, the Missouri National Guard had more than 30 soldiers and airmen assisting in what became known as "Operation Northwest Crest."  Task Force Northwest supported civil authorities, including staffing traffic control points and monitoring levees.  Guardsmen also served as liaison officers with local emergency operations centers and civil authorities.



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