Evacuations and water rescues were reported across Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas over the weekend following a storm system that dumped between five and eight inches of rain across the area.
Some rivers, including Spring River near Carthage and Elk River near Tiff City, were expected to approach historic crests. Many major roads were closed by rising water, including Interstate 49 near Carthage, but no fatalities were reported in the area as of Sunday evening.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri on Sunday, and noted that road closures, water rescues and fatalities also were reported around the state.
Cassville along Main Street and Monett along Broadway Street were flooded Saturday night, said David Compton, the county’s emergency management director.
He estimated that 80 to 90 businesses in Monett were damaged.
Monett Fire Capt. Dewayne Irwin said Broadway flooded from Third to 13th streets.
“It’s just a lot of debris. Logs and gravel and sticks and limbs," Irwin said.
Compton on Sunday said the early estimate for the damage was at least a half-million dollars.
“I think that number will grow. We’re very early in the process," he said.
Compton said about three dozen people were evacuated in Barry County on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
He also said area law enforcement officers rescued people from 29 vehicles that were stranded or trapped by rising waters, most in northern Barry County and southern Lawrence County. Two people were taken to area hospitals suffering from hypothermia after they were rescued from stranded vehicles. Both were treated and released, he said.
“We had one gentleman who spent about two hours on top of his vehicle,” Compton said.
In Carthage, as many as 75 people who had to be evacuated because of flooding along Spring River in Carthage gathered at Fairview Christian Church, 2320 Grand Ave., which has set up an emergency shelter, and where volunteers were cooking meals for them late Sunday afternoon.
Most of the residents who were evacuated were from the Kendricktown area.
"The water is as high as me," said Margarito Reyes, gesturing with his hand above his chest. He is one of those forced out of his home by floodwaters that could approach record levels.
Jasper County officials also confirmed the voluntary evacuation as a precaution of three residences housing senior citizens in Sarcoxie.
Flood stage along the Spring River at Carthage is 10 feet; on Sunday the river was near 20 feet. The river was expected to crest around 21.8 feet Sunday night. The historic crest, of 22 feet, was set on May 18, 1943.
Flood stage for the Spring River at Waco is 19 feet; the expected crest was 30 feet on Monday. The river has only topped that level twice according to records that go back 90 years.
In Pierce City, 15 families were evacuated from their homes Saturday night because of rising waters from Kelly Creek, said Jerrod Jarvis, the city’s emergency management coordinator. One home was evacuated by boat.
“It looked like a giant river running through the middle of town,” Jarvis said. “I think the problem was how quickly it went up. It went from nothing to being at people’s doorsteps in 30 minutes.”
Jarvis said the homes were on Commercial and Halstead streets, both near the creek. He said the evacuation started at 9:30 p.m. and ended shortly after 11 p.m.
The city asked First Baptist Church to open as a shelter, but church member Marian Mobley said Sunday that most of the people evacuated were able to stay with relatives. The church provided shelter for one family briefly.
Jarvis said no one was injured. The flood waters, which he estimated at two feet high on Commercial Street, had receded Sunday afternoon, and the creek was back within its banks.
Some homes in Redings Mill along Shoal Creek in Newton County also were being evacuated by rapidly rising water Sunday.
Tyler Hailey, a senior engineer with the Redings Mill Fire District, said the situation was changing quickly so he wasn't sure how many people were affected. He also said several roads into the area had flooded, but he was not aware of any injuries.
An emergency shelter opened at Christ's Community United Methodist Church at 2700 E. 44th St. in Joplin for residents along Shoal Creek who needed a place to stay, said Keith Stammer, director of the Joplin and Jasper County office of emergency management. He also said there were no major reports of problems in Joplin.
Neosho Fire Chief Mike Eads said some low-lying areas around Neosho also had seen flooding and a few roads were closed, and there were some vehicle rescues in the Hickory Creek area, around Morse Park and off of Neosho Boulevard, but no reports of injuries. Outside of city limits, there also have been multiple water rescues, particularly along Shoal Creek from Neosho to Redings Mill.
As Shoal Creek spilled over its banks at Tipton Ford, it threatened the Shoal Creek RV Plaza at Interstate 49 and Gateway Drive.
Matt Warne, Webb City, drove to the plaza to see if he could remove a truck from the plaza that belonged to his mother, a truck driver who was away.
"When I got here, the truck was in the water and this guy in a tow truck comes up,'' he said. "He pulls the truck out of the water up here to higher ground and does not charge me. I think it was Rapid Recovery that did that.
"I've seen the river come up before but never this high — not up to here.''
Gian Stone lives in one of the trailers in the plaza that originally served as a FEMA trailer after the Joplin tornado. He said his friend and her daughter have moved out of the trailer.
"I came home from work at 9 a.m. and slept for an hour or two. Then I heard a knock at the door,'' he said. "It was my neighbor. He said: 'We need your help.'''
Stone said he helped his neighbor move out as the river kept rising into the plaza. Some RV's in the plaza were sitting in water.
Further downstream at the River's Bend Campground near Redings Mill, Shoal Creek had submerged a handful of RV's. Some had been pulled to higher ground.
In Redings Mill, residents were reporting some of the highest water they had ever seen and that the flooding had shut down the community water system.
Firefighters from Joplin were dispatched to the Grand Falls Plaza about 5 p.m. Sunday to help with the evacuation of families from that subdivision along Shoal Creek. Grand Falls Plaza has about 46 households.
Further downstream at the Riverview Apartments along Shoal Creek, not from Decker's Creekside restaurant, families were moving out as water from Shoal Creek spilled into the parking lot of the apartment complex.
Guy Wills and Sara Taylor were stuffing things into their car.
"I live on the lower floor. I thought I would get my stuff out now while I still could,'' she said.
"We're doing this out of common sense,'' Wills said.
While second-floor residents watched the creek from their balconies, Hunter Lynn went to a metal fence that separates the parking lot from the river.
"I am about to leave,'' he said. "I don't want to be stuck on this parking lot and not be able to get out.''
Flooding along Shoal Creek also was believed responsible for a trail derailment in Newton County early Sunday morning.
Greg Hickman, emergency management operations chief for Newton County, said several cars derailed from a Burlington Northern train carrying cargo trailers about 1.5 miles northeast of Neosho along Shoal Creek.
Burlington Northern was in the process of trying to recover the train cars Sunday, Hickman said.
Eads said Sunday that he knew of nine cargo containers that had been washed downstream and lodged in fields or on the road. Two of the containers contained auto parts and furniture, and the contents of the the others had not been confirmed. However, Eads said that based on the train's papers, there was nothing to indicate anything in them was dangerous.
Shoal Creek was expected to crest at 23.5 feet overnight Sunday; flood stage is 14 feet. The previous record was 18.81 feet according to comparable records that go back to 1968.
Baxter Springs, Kansas
In Baxter Springs, Kansas, officials were playing what Mayor Randy Trease called a "wait-and-see" game.
Trease said he spent part of Sunday driving around Cherokee County wondering how bad the flooding could get.
Trease said that if the Spring River crests at 37.5 feet, as predicted by the National Weather Service station in Springfield, it would close U.S. Highway 166. That crest is 7.5 feet higher than the Spring River flood of 2007.
The forecast is for the river to crest on Tuesday morning and drop below flood level on Thursday.
Trease said some residents in the northeast part of the city closest to the river, on Sixth, Seventh and Eighth streets, voluntarily evacuated. He didn’t have an estimate of how many people have left.
Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves said emergency workers began contacting about 200 Cherokee County residents on Saturday afternoon to alert them to possible flooding.
“We don't have a hard count on the number of people who have voluntarily left their homes,” Groves said. “There have been no mandatory evacuations. It’s all voluntary, primarily in areas of Baxter Springs near Spring River, as well as along Shoal Creek and the Riverton, Rest-A-While, and Lowell areas.”
Jason Allison, the emergency management director for Cherokee County, said no flood-related injuries had been reported as of Sunday afternoon, although there were at least four reports of vehicles stranded by high water.
The county opened emergency shelters at Baxter Springs High School and Riverton High School but closed the one at Riverton.
Red Cross volunteer Marsha Ogle said no one was at the shelter at Baxter Springs on Sunday afternoon.
At Miami, Oklahoma, Glenda Longan, head of emergency management, said barricades had been erected at various places across the city where roads were impassible.
"We've had one water rescue (Sunday) where someone went around a barricade on Veteran's Boulevard,'' she said. "The police and fire departments rescued one person from that vehicle.''
She said driving around a barricade will get you a $500 fine in Miami.
Longan said the city has been in close contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Grand River Dam Authority about the condition of the Neosho River.
"We're keeping a close eye on the Neosho,'' she said.
Globe staff writers Sarah Okeson, Susan Redden, Allie Hinga and Wally Kennedy contributed to this story.