Missourians brace for another flood season

Officials say anyone living in a flood-prone area should plan ahead in case of floods like this one in 2013.

Officials and residents alike told KRCG 13 Sunday you never know when a river will rise.

Maries County resident John Williams, who lives on a bluff near the Gasconade River, said last year's floods kept him from going into Vienna for supplies after U.S. 63 was closed. He said he was able to go into Rolla for groceries, but he always makes sure to have plenty of food and water on hand.

"You just kind of gotta be prepared for it anytime. You never know when it's gonna hit," he said.

Floodwaters pounded Mid-Missouri during July and August of 2013, destroying homes and farmland from Mount Sterling to Waynesville. According to NOAA, about 75 percent of all presidential disaster declarations result from floods, and Missouri's State Emergency Management Agency reports the last four federal disaster declarations for this state have all involved flooding.

Sunday marks the beginning of National Flood Safety Awareness Week. According to the National Weather Service, 85 people died in freshwater floods nationwide last year. More than half of those deaths happened when people drove into floodwaters. SEMA warns that six inches of moving water is enough to knock a person off their feet and stall a car. Two feet of rushing water will carry away even sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

Maj. Tammy Spicer of the Missouri Army National Guard said people should pay very close attention to weather forecasts and be ready to go if officials order an evacuation. She said nobody should enter floodwaters by car or on foot. Williams echoed Spicer's advice and said he knows several people who have had their cars swept away by floodwaters.

"You don't know if the bridge is out or the culvert's out," he said. "You can get in there and you can get washed away. If it's muddy water, don't get into it."

FEMA recommends having a least three days' worth of food, water and medical supplies on hand. The agency suggests people living in flood-prone areas buy flood insurance well in advance of any emergency and plan out where they will stay and how they will get there if they need to evacuate. Officials say if you need to evacuate, you should disconnect your home's utilities if you have time. When the floodwaters recede, do not attempt to return home until officials give the all-clear.