By this point in 2019, two rounds of high floodwaters already had saturated the ground in Northwest Missouri. In the summer of 2020, flooding on the South Side left a large number of people displaced from their properties.
In both instances, the Buchanan County and St. Joseph emergency management teams deployed response efforts to help mitigate any losses that they could. The efforts needed can vary; in 2019 sandbagging efforts were required to keep roads open, and in 2020 the agencies joined the process of moving and clearing debris.
So far in 2021, the area is off to a good start, said Buchanan County Emergency Management Coordinator Bill Brinton.
“Our plans are reactive rather than proactive, so we haven’t had too much to do,” Brinton said. “You need something to respond to, and right now we have our plans, we do update them, we do monitor them, but we don’t have a whole lot to do this spring.”
An airshow in August 2018 provoked the largest emergency response in the county due to people becoming sick by the heat, according to Brinton. In that instance, officials looked at what went wrong and what could be improved upon. So for the next airshow, which was held last month, emergency crews were ready.
“We beefed up our efforts with cooling tents and hydration available, but it was in May so it was not quite as hot as it had been,” Brinton said.
So far 2021 has been a fresh breath of air for those in the area who have been impacted by floodwaters in the last couple of years. However, emergency officials continue to keep a close eye on what the river levels, current and future, look like.
“Naturally we monitor our river levels, and if we do have a situation (we) watch the rainfall,” Brinton said. “It helps this year with the river being low and the rain the past few weeks, like Agency, Missouri, got to 22 feet last week but the water never got out of its banks.”
The rainfall that the area has received in the last few weeks has been helpful to keep the St. Joseph area out of drought stages, and the fact the river has not swollen to a flooding point provides a positive outlook for the fall.