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Flood Threat Not Major Concern - Yet

May 06, 1996
By: Claudia Gabarain
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Despite the heavy rains in the past few weeks, state officials say they're not worried about extensive flooding in Missouri - yet.

While the "Flood of '93" remains on everyone's minds, state officials say the limited flash flooding that occurred in the last couple of weekends is not a warning of the "big one".

"There's no sense of alarm at this point," said Chris Sifford, spokesman for the governor. "We're just watching very closely what's happening."

Sifford, however, added that definite predictions cannot be made. "Usually we have a pretty good feel for what's going to happen, although it's impossible to say it accurately."

Gov. Mel Carnahan issued a state of emergency two weekends ago, related to the first round of severe weather that caused extensive damages in southwest Missouri and Jefferson County.

"This executive order," Sifford said, "allows us to mobilize state resources and state agencies." The state of emergency remains in effect until May 28.

Jerry Uhlman, director of the State Emergency Management Agency, said that "in several areas we're going to exceed the flood state, but without getting to a critical level."

Sifford said there are opportunities flooding all over the state.

"We're closely monitoring the river stages and coordinating efforts with the local officials," Uhlman said.

In case it was needed, the emergency plan used would be very similar to the one applied in 1993, he added. "At that time the plan was very well executed and now we would approach the problem in a similar way."

As Missourians monitor water levels and watch the on and off rain, Missouri's Representatives also discussed flood waters. Though legislators never left the warm, dry Capitol, their concerns about rain and water levels came up in a debate on a proposal that includes establishing a Division of Flood Plain Management. The new agency would help develop and enforce policies and rules to deal with possible flood damage, and assure that Missouri remained eligible for federal aid.

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