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Southern Mo. residents brace for another round of flooding

BRANSON, Mo. -- Branson residents brace for another round of flooding after a weekend of flooding rains.

Though Sunday was a sunny day, Branson residents knew better than to trust the weather. Though the rains moved out, the inches of rain that fell have already run off into area streams and rivers. That run off is now what has residents running for sandbags and making evacuation plans.

The gates on the dam opened at 2 pm Sunday and 6 pm Sunday, in an effort to keep the additional runoff water from flooding the lake and tourism areas.

Thirty volunteers spent Sunday morning filling 5,000 sandbags. They were done in three hours.

In the commercial area of Branson Landing, the water from Lake Taneycomo is about 10 feet higher than normal and it spilled over the barrier wall and into the sidewalk. Areas of the parking lot were blocked off, making parking spots an even hotter commodity in the shopping area.

Branson residents are learning to adjust to the occasional flood waters. It flooded in the area just after Christmas 2015, and in 2011.

"You don't get used to it," explained Debi Hartley as she watched Lake Taneycomo creep closer to her home. "You always hope it doesn't come again, but you get prepared for it when it starts raining and you hear them talking."

Many credit the Army Corps of Engineers for reducing the impact of the floodwaters - and for its constant communication with area residents.

"A lot of the water doesn't come from the rain in these areas," explained Barry Jantz, the Volunteer CERT Director for Branson and Taney Counties. "It comes from tributaries; it comes from Springfield, down the James River; it comes from Beaver Dam. We get all into Table Rock Lake and they (the Corps) have to manage it."

That manages to impact Phil Lilley's bottom line. He owns the trout fishing resort Lilley's landing on Lake Taneycomo, which more resembles the old White River than a stagnant body of water. The water forced him to kick out all of his customers Saturday night.

"We were full last night," he said, "but we had to ask everybody to leave, which was tough on them. They were settling in for a nice evening of grilling steaks and stuff and we came around and said 'guys, we need to move you out because we don't know when the high water is coming. It might come in the middle of the night, so we'd rather get everybody out now.'"

The waters will crest in the next couple of days. The swollen waters, Lilley said, are good for fishing. He hopes to reopen his business and turn a profit on the trout by next weekend.

Shelters set up and several hotels are open with discounted rates for residents who are leaving their homes because they are concerned about the flood waters. However, a lot of people in the area also have a lot of family in the area, said CERT Director Jantz, who open up their homes to their neighbors, their families, and their friends.