ROCK PORT, Mo. — Flood-stricken residents of Atchison and Holt counties came in from the rain Thursday for a rejuvenating break designed to help return their lives back to normal.
The Atchison-Holt Disaster Recovery Fair, held at the Velma Houts Building in Rock Port, Missouri, allowed scores of residents displaced by last week’s floodwaters to begin seeking out aid to fulfill their basic needs. The eight-hour event featured about 20 agencies equipped to answer different questions related to flood issues, all under one roof and freeing the residents from the burden of having to ferret out multiple phone numbers.
“I did not foresee the smiles that came through that room,” said Rhonda Wiley, the Atchison County emergency management director who helped organize the fair. “Everybody’s so happy and positive, and they’re getting their needs met. It greatly exceeded our expectations ... You see the community resilience.”
Wiley said it took the intervening week since the onset of the flood to plan the fair. The agencies included but weren’t limited to the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, University of Missouri Extension and the USDA’s Farm Services Agency.
The resource team’s long-term specialists intend to focus on residents’ future needs once their short-term interests have been addressed.
A second resource fair for the two counties’ flood victims will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at the Mound City High School.
Apart from the efforts to assist residents in the flood plain, two state lawmakers from Northwest Missouri are pledging to urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reprioritize flood control in their management of the Missouri River.
Senators Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, and Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, announced Thursday that they filed Missouri Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 that cites the Corps’ river management practices as running contrary to the region’s interests.
In 2004, the Corps changed the Missouri River Master Manual to place greater emphasis on environmental protections at the expense of flood control. In March 2018, a federal judge ruled that change, in particular, was responsible for record flooding along the river and the resulting millions of dollars in damage and lost economic output.