Almost two years after unprecedented flooding affected Neosho and Newton County, the City of Neosho may be able to qualify for a portion of $58.5 million dollars in Community Development Block Grants through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Jill Cornett, executive director of the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council, appeared before the city council last week during the regular meeting to talk about the available funding.
"Neosho is one of five communities in the southern part of Missouri that is eligible for what's asically a once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunity to deal with unmet needs," Cornett said.
She indicated the money, if received, can be used to rebuild or rehabilitate homes, businesses or infrastructure such as roads damaged by the April 2017 flooding.
"This needs to be a community driven effort," she said. "We are a planning council. We can't make the decisions. We're going to need input. We're going to need cooperation and coordination."
When 6-10 inches of rain fell in the Neosho area on April 28-30, 2017, the subsequent flooding caused widespread damage including within the city of Neosho.
FEMA data indicates that around 284 homeowners and 85 renters experienced flood damage. Some homes were destroyed while others suffered various levels of damage. Three businesses in Newton County were destroyed, nine others suffered major damage and twenty others had minor damage. Neosho's Morse Park, site of several ballfields and recreation equipment, suffered heavy damage due to the park's location, on the banks of Hickory Creek.
Few of those affected by the April 2017 flooding had flood insurance.
Cornett and the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council are willing to serve as grant administrator for the city to make certain the application process goes smoothly.
She suggested that the city hold a community meeting to locate needs, especially in areas hardest hit by the flooding.
"We need to apply for it, all of it," Leland Butcher, Neosho City Manager said in response."And we can."
Tentative plans to hold a community meeting next month were discussed by the council.
The potential for repeat flooding due to changing weather patterns and climate conditions were also discussed.
"We need to address the reality of changing weather patterns," Cornett said.
Councilman Tom Workman stated he would like to see a community scheduled as soon as possible.
Mary Oerly, manager of Missouri's Community Development Block Grant program told the council that the other communities eligible for the HUD funding area Branson, West Plains, Doniphan and Van Buren.
"These (grants) are competitive. Just because you are one of the five zip codes does not automatically mean you get a certain amount of money. You have to apply for that funding," Oerly said.
The city plans to move ahead rapidly with the application progress and may seek local partners who would work with community action agencies.
The date of the proposed community meeting has not yet been announced.