POPLAR BLUFF – April showers might bring May flowers, but they’ve also brought extreme flooding to the southeast corner of Missouri and weeks’ worth of work for Missouri Baptist disaster relief (DR) volunteers.
Rising waters on the Mississippi and Black Rivers seeped across the southeast corner of the state from Poplar Bluff to Caruthersville, from Morehouse to Cape Girardeau, destroying thousands of homes.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to blow the Birds Point Levee and open up a floodway to New Madrid in order to save the town of Cairo, Ill., made national headlines as thousands of acres of fertile farmland were flooded. As of press time, the rivers appear to have crested though the flooding problems have shifted downstream. At Cape Girardeau the Mississippi crested at 46.28 feet May 9, 2.22 feet off its all-time record of 48.5 feet.
At least three churches – Shining Light Baptist in Charleston, Hooe Baptist Church and Dorena Baptist Church – have been flooded. First Baptist, Morehouse, and others have opened their doors as shelters.
Rick Seaton, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) men’s ministry specialist and state DR coordinator, said he anticipates at least a two- to three-week response in these areas – maybe longer.
“We currently have mud-out teams beginning in the Poplar Bluff area and are presently looking into the need for other areas,” he said. “We also need chaplains now and through next week. If you are available to respond at any time, please contact our office.”
The Missouri DR office can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-800-736-6227, ext 631.
In St. Louis, the chainsaw work in the wake of the Good Friday tornadoes is finished. St. Louis Metro Association and local churches report that they anticipate being able to fulfill any further requests for assistance. The official DR response site has been shut down.
“Some have been on this site for over two weeks straight and there were around 328 jobs completed,” Seaton said. “We are very thankful to everyone both in-state and out-of-state who have responded and helped in this area.”
Seaton said that while Alabama DR teams have massive amounts of cleanup and recovery on their hands in the aftermath of record tornadoes, Missouri DR units will stay in-state.
“We know that they are still assessing needs and determining potential needs for assistance,” he said. “At this time we have not had a request for assistance from Alabama.”
BRIAN KOONCE/staff writer