Schools close in aftermath of floods

Aaron Finley helps salvage items from a flooded home near Jefferson and Washington streets in Anderson on Sunday. Globe | Laurie Sisk

Schools and some roads are closed Monday in parts of Southwest Missouri after Saturday's devastating floods.

Because of damage across the area, schools were scheduled to be closed Monday in Seneca, Neosho and all of McDonald County, school officials announced Sunday.

In Neosho, school officials said the cancellation would give students and staff time to assess damage to their own homes. It also would give electric crews enough time to restore energy in order to pump water.

"Three of our buildings are the highest water users in the city, and in one day of our buildings being open, we will deplete what is stored," administrators said Sunday in a message on the district's website. "We ask that people do not come into the buildings tomorrow."

The school district is discouraging donated items because it has no storage space. Financial assistance and checks, to be handled by Bright Futures Neosho, can be dropped off at the central office, 418 Fairground Road.

Update on roads

Rob Frye, meteorologist with the National Weather Service station in Springfield, said most of the area reported 3 to 6 inches of rain on Saturday, including Joplin, which got between 4 and 5 inches.

However, two bands of heavier rainfall also moved through the region. One of those, about 5 miles in width, hit parts of McDonald and Newton counties, bringing between 7 and 9 inches of rain, and up to 11 inches in some areas. A second band moved out of Northwest Arkansas and into Barry County, dumping a similar amount of rain.

As floodwaters receded Sunday, emergency managers and others continued to assess the region for damage.

McDonald County Emergency Manager Gregg Sweeten said a rockslide had closed Route H about halfway between Pineville and Noel. Parts of Route NN also washed away during heavy rains.

"We have got numerous county roads that are damaged," Sweeten said. "They've got 2- and 3-foot ruts down the middle of them. We've got several bridges that are closed until MoDOT gets inspectors down here."

The Missouri Department of Transportation was warning travelers on Sunday that even after the water recedes, debris could be left behind on roads, and it could be several days before some sites are cleared. Some roads may appear safe for travel, but there can be unseen damage.

Up to 150 roads, including a section of Interstate 44 near Hazelgreen in south-central Missouri, and several state parks were closed over the weekend.

After Gov. Eric Greitens' declaration of a state of emergency, the State Emergency Management Agency, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri National Guard and Missouri's Task Force 1 Rescue Unit have deployed resources.

At least two flood-related deaths were reported, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

A 72-year-old woman from Billings died Saturday afternoon when her vehicle was swept away in rushing water in Christian County. And an 18-year-old man from Richland died early Sunday morning when his vehicle was overwhelmed by a flash flood as it attempted to cross a low-water bridge in Pulaski County.

In Barry, Lawrence counties

Sweeten, the McDonald County emergency management director, said about 20 people spent Saturday night at two shelters in Anderson and Noel.

Bonnie Witt-Schulte, emergency management director for both Monett and Lawrence County, said no one stayed overnight Saturday at a shelter in Monett. She also said things were returning to normal in the county, and that the amount of damage in Monett's downtown, which historically floods during high water, was not as bad as in 2015, when dozens of businesses sustained flood damage.

"They had taken precautions to protect their business," she said.

Farther south in Barry County, near Cassville, some businesses and homes did sustain water damage, "but the damage was nowhere near what it has been in past year," said David Compton, emergency manager for the county.

He said mitigation efforts along Flat Creek in Cassville and Kelly Creek in Monett greatly reduced damage, considering the level of rain around the region, despite reports of record high water in parts of the county.

"All in all, we feel like we were pretty lucky," he said.

Compton also advised residents that scammers have arrived in the region and are asking storm victims for personal information, claiming that is necessary to get assistance. But local, state and federal emergency managers, and groups such as the Red Cross, don't operate that way, he said.

In Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all 77 counties after severe storms, flooding, strong winds and snow hit the state.

The storm system, with its widespread rain and high winds, damaged power lines and poles as well as trees, roofs and structures. Oklahoma Department of Emergency Services spokeswoman Keli Cain said Sunday that a tornado was reported near Sallisaw in eastern Oklahoma and flooding was reported in the area, while about 15 inches of snow was reported in Cimarron County in the Panhandle.

Fallin's executive order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases for disaster relief and preparedness. A second executive order temporarily suspends the requirements for size and weights permits of oversized vehicles that transport materials and supplies used for storm relief.

In Northeast Oklahoma, Grand Lake continued to rise on Sunday, reaching 751.89 feet during the afternoon, according to the Grand River Dam Authority. Daily target elevation for this time of year is 742 feet. At the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, five main spillway gates and five east spillway gates were open at Pensacola Dam.

The Associated Press, Globe Metro Editor Andy Ostmeyer and Globe staff writer Emily Younker contributed to this report.


Proms that had been canceled over the weekend in Neosho and McDonald County due to flooding were rescheduled for Saturday.