Record and near-record flooding was experienced in the area over the Christmas weekend and into Monday, creating widespread problems.

Record and near-record flooding was experienced in the area over the Christmas weekend and into Monday, creating widespread problems.
Shoal Creek crested Monday morning at 23.5 feet at Joplin, according to Megan Terry, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield. “The previous record was 18.8. That was in October of 2009,” Terry reported.
Elk River was expected to begin dropping Monday evening after cresting at 25.5 feet, which Terry said was the third highest on record. “They had a crest of 28.4 in ’41 and 25.85 in 2011” she said.
The expected crest of Spring River at Baxter Springs, Kan., was 31.4 feet at about 12 a.m. today, Terry noted.
Rainfall totals in the region exceeded 8 inches in many locations, with 9½ inches reported in the Joplin area. Terry said some isolated areas received more than 10 inches of precipitation.
McDonald County overall was perhaps hardest hit in the Daily News coverage area with Noel reportedly nearly surrounded by water and the McDonald County Sheriff’s Department reporting that river, streams and waterways were rising Sunday night into Monday, with several rescues of residents trapped by floodwaters. Road barricades and closings were numerous, according to the MoDOT map.
While Newton County overall fared better, there still were plenty of problem areas.

Newton County impact
The volume of rain created many impassable road conditions, as the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Traveler Information Map was dotted with reported closures of highways and many county roads were underwater in Southwest Missouri.
In Newton County, damage assessments won’t be complete until floodwaters recede, according to Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman. In addition to areas around Shoal Creek, some culverts and roads in the Stella area were washed out.
No loss of life was reported in the county, and though no reports of lost livestock had come in by mid-day Monday, Ruestman expected to receive some.
Multiple water rescues from residences and vehicles were performed by emergency services personnel. Newton County Emergency Management Director Charla Geller said figures from those will not be compiled until she can receive full reports from all county agencies.
“Often times, when those agencies are dispatched to a rescue – and specifically yesterday (Sunday) is one – Diamond (Fire Department) was sent to one rescue, but they ended up stopping at two or three places along the way to rescue other people on their way,” Geller said. “We had a lot of people along the Lime Kiln Road area that we had a lot of water rescues going on. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of water rescues that Redings Mill (Fire Protection District) did up in that area.”
Neosho was busy with water rescues beginning Saturday along the High School Branch near Neosho Boulevard. Some calls for rescue came in, but some people were able to extract themselves before emergency personnel arrived, so Geller hopes to have accurate information assembled by early next week.
“They were absolutely hammered, but I’ll tell you what. The fire departments in this area really stepped up like nobody’s business,” Geller said. “Absolutely stepped up — and the communities. We can only say what we did as far as first responders, but there were so many residents helping residents. It’s really nice when they come together.”
With a large number of water rescues necessary in Jasper, Newton and McDonald counties, she said, water rescue crews were brought in from Kansas City and Carl Junction. Geller was unsure whether an out-of-state crew arrived that she heard was on its way.
“This was an historic flood,” she said. “We were expecting that before Christmas. We knew we had the potential for an historic flood, and that’s what we’ve got.”
Because Spring River still wasn’t expected to crest until midnight, Geller anticipated that Shoal Creek, which dumps into Spring River, won’t begin going down until this morning.
“Typically, the residents are used to Shoal Creek. When it goes up, it goes down pretty fast,” she said. “If we continue with the water runoff coming form the eastern part, like the Barry County area, we may see it come up a little bit, but not like it was yesterday (Sunday).”
Because so many of the county’s flooded homes are in the Redings Mill area, Geller said, the American Red Cross opened a shelter at Christ Community United Methodist Church in the 2700 block of East 44th Street. “We didn’t see a lot of people stay overnight,” she said. “Then a lot of those individuals who were displaced had other places to go.”

Neosho wet, but spared
High waters closed off more than the typical roads when flooding occurs, but Neosho mostly was spared of flooding damage. High water, however, highlighted some deficiencies.
“We didn’t have any major damages, no road destructions or any private property structures were damaged,” said Ryan Long, the city’s public works director. “What it did show us was a lot of our very weak points that we have to address immediately. Especially the high school drainage branch that runs from the boulevard behind the high school to the north side of town is going to have to be addressed immediately.”
Places along the stream route bottleneck, Long pointed out, so other places need to be cleaned out where the flow of water is restricted.
“There needs to be some kind of lateral rock put in behind the high school where it is starting to erode out the hillside and make a pretty large hole in some areas,” he said. “We’re going to have to do some major work probably behind the high school.”
There are places where the stream gets choked off, Long said, especially at Wornell Drive.
“It chokes down from a 4-foot ditch to a 15-inch culvert across the road,” he said. “That’s a major problem.”
Though the waters of Shoal Creek surrounded the water treatment plant on Kentucky Road at U.S. Business 60, everything was operating fine there. “No major catastrophes are reported,” Long said.
On-call crews worked 30 hours over the holiday weekend on calls, closing roads and other duties, he noted, as they kept up with all situations that came up.

Joplin water treatment problems
Joplin was having problems with its water, at least in the southern stretches of the municipality, some in northern Newton County.
The Shoal Creek Wastewater Treatment Station experienced a great deal of stormwater infiltration, impacting a lift station that moves wastewater from approximately 1,500 to 2,000 households in the area to the Shoal Creek plant for treatment, according to Lynn Ostot, city of Joplin public information officer.
That does not affect drinking water, Onstot said, so there was no immediate danger to citizens, but she urged those in the affected area to be conservative in their water usage.
“Maybe not flush every time,” she suggested. “Don’t run the dishes until full or don’t do dishes unnecessarily. The same with laundry, showering and bathroom use — those kinds of things — to limit their water intake. It’s one of those things you don’t realize, until someone asks you not to use it, how much you use.”
The situation was being assessed as Onstot said city officials appreciate the cooperation of citizens as they address the issue.
“It’s something we need to look at and make a determination of the best way to repair it,” she said. “We can do a remedy situation, but there’s going to have to be a long-term fix, as well.”
The affected lift station is on South Coyote Drive just north of Apricot Drive in the southwest sector of the city. The affected area extends as far north as West Junge Boulevard.

A change to cold
Snow began to fall at mid-day Monday with possible freezing rain later. Terry warned that low temperatures overnight in the low 20s would cause some slick spots for motorists early today, with the high expected only around the freezing mark.