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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Financial Impact of Floods on Greene County Being Tallied

Friend of the Garden

The preliminary estimate for public safety response and public infrastructure damage in Greene County during the recent floods is just under a million dollars.  KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more.

The Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management says damages total $982,786, and OEM’s director, Chet Hunter, expects that to rise.

"I think it will very easily and with a high amount of confidence break the million dollar mark for sure.  Already, when we released those numbers this morning, some of our public safety partners were having additional numbers to be added to that," he said.

The estimate includes water rescues, road damages, debris removal, utilities, parks, schools and government buildings.

Hunter said there were 120 water rescues during the flooding December 26th through 28th.

"We ran out of boats and, so, we were having to pull water rescue boats, specialty boats from the Kansas City area and the Rolla area, just to support the amount of water rescues that were going on.  Sure, many people were caught off guard--there's always those pieces--but a lot, a lot, a high percentage of those folks that were caught in those situations were failure to recognize what they were driving into or failure to obey a barricade," he said.

He said the preliminary estimate would have been lower if drivers heeded flood warnings and hadn’t driven into flood waters and around barricades.  He reminds them of the impact their decisions have.

"When you drive into the water, please try to understand that the decision you make at that point in time really has a huge landscape of decision because now somebody has to come rescue you and now you're impacting that rescuer's family and you're impacting equipment, you're impacting departments, you're impacting the ability for them to respond elsewhere just because you didn't want to turn around," he said.

Hunter said the preliminary estimate is OEM’s first attempt at qualifying the damages from the flooding for federal aid.

"Those numbers will go to SEMA, the State Emergency Management Agency,  and they'll say, 'hey, it looks like these folks are meeting their threshold,' and that only helps qualify us for federal funds during disaster," he said.

He said it will ultimately be up to President Obama to decide if the county qualifies for funds.

Representatives from FEMA, SEMA and the Small Business Administration will be in the area over the next few weeks to conduct additional damage assessments to determine what levels of federal assistance might be made available to affected citizens.

According to Hunter, if they’re able to get individual assistance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will return with an application process.

Property owners with flood damage can keep up with the latest information from OEM here or by calling 869-6040.

Hunter said as of 9 am today (1/5), OEM had received 635 damage reports:  630 were residential, 16 were commercial and 10 were agriculture related.