The Governor, Congressman Sam Graves, and Representative Allen Andrews stand on the approach to the Brownville Bridge and discuss the problems of the design and how it creates a pinch point with Atchison County Levee Board president Ryan Ottmann and board members Jason Garst and Garry Garst.
Atchison County Levee Board president Ryan Ottmann and Presiding Commissioner Curt Livengood stand with Governor Mike Parson on top of the levees at Watson to see the damages left by the 2019 floods.
Pelicans were landing in the flooded area during the governor’s tour of the levees.
With the floodwaters still standing after 200 plus days, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, along with Congressman Sam Graves, Representative Allen Andrews, and Director of SEMA Ron Walker, met at Dusty Trail to visit with both Atchison County and Holt County elected officials and levee boards. Following introductions, the Governor listened to Atchison County Presiding Commissioner Curt Livengood and Atchison County Clerk Susette Taylor explain where the residents of Atchison County need help, along with the county itself. Clerk Taylor gave updates on the numbers that show the impact of the flood: 166 homes, 278 citizens, and 1209 agriculture buildings have all been affected. This doesn’t include all of the businesses that have been impacted. Susette also explained the impact of the railroad construction as they have raised the track by more than two feet and continue to ignore or comply with any of the requests made by Atchison County. As a result, residents who have never had water in their homes were flooded this year.
Holt County Commissioner David Carroll presented the Governor with a two page diagram of the reservoir system showing the current levels and their capacity. About 53 percent of the flood control storage remains to be evacuated over the next 10 weeks. David also expressed his concern for the residents of Holt County who have first been approved for assistance and received money, but who are now receiving letters that they are to return the money because they did not qualify.
The Governor asked Ron Walker, director of the State Emergency Management Agency, to explain what qualifies for assistance. Mr. Walker called the flooding in March an event, but there was not enough damage to call it a disaster. He then explained about the second event which took place in April and that everyone was not open about accepting the request from FEMA and SEMA. Ron did state that his office is going back and trying to work on each problem on a case by case basis. He did also say that the gap is too large as FEMA says that 400 to 550 homes have to be affected in order to qualify.
A quick luncheon was held before heading to the Brownville Bridge. While at the bridge, Atchison County Levee Board president Ryan Ottmann and board members Jason Garst, Troy LaHue, Garry Garst, along with Presiding Commissioner Livengood, spoke with the Governor about how the bridge is a pinch point in the system and in order to fix the problem the levee would need to be set back. This would come at the cost of $5 million per mile. Fixing the first break at Watson has cost over $22 million to date. Following the meeting on the bridge, the Governor was taken to the Watson Levee break, where he could see firsthand the amount of work that has been put into repairing the levee system and how much we still needed to repair.