With nearly 10 inches of rain dumped in SW Mo., many around Branson applaud approach to managing flood

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BRANSON, Mo. -- People kept stopping to take pictures of the water flowing over Table Rock Dam and through its flood gates on Monday. Some say it is amazing to see, since they haven't seen so much water coming out of it in years.

Table Rock Lake is full, and the wind is splashing waves over the edge of the dam.

At the bottom of the man made waterfall is the old White River - now known as Lake Taneycomo. The water is flowing fast and hard, and downstream.

"You don't get used to it," said Debi Hartley of the anticipated flooding as she stood in her neighborhood, Lake Taneycomo Acres. "You always hope it doesn't come again, but you get prepared for it when it starts raining."

That rain poured as much as eight inches in the Branson area from Friday to Saturday. In points east of Branson, there were pockets of 10 inches of rain.

People evacuated their homes and businesses Saturday night. People filled 5,000 sandbags Sunday morning, according to CERT Director Barry Jantz.

On Sunday, FOX 4 video showed areas of Branson dealing with flooding. Some statutes were covered by water, some roads had water on them.

Steve Brann came to the Branson area for a week of vacation.

"Came down here to do some fishing," he said, "and it rained Friday - Saturday - Sunday. Today's Monday and it stopped raining - and now it's windy and cold."

By Monday morning, more than 12 hours after the first flood gates had opened on Table Rock Dam, the statues were underwater and the roads had deeper water on them. Docks that used to sit several feet below backyards were now level, and in some cases two feet above the yard. Retaining walls were being tested.

Yet local residents who spoke with FOX 4's Rebecca Gannon applauded the situation, and the Army Corps of Engineers. Though there is water around - and sometimes in - their yards, many say it is controlled, or manageable, flooding.

"The dams did their job," said Phil Lilley, a local fishing resort owner. "If the dams weren't there, water would be up in this field. The Corps managed this event extremely well."

"This is as high as we're going to get, " said Lilley from the back deck of his Lilley's Landing Resort. "We're blessed." He predicted the water would pour over that deck, possibly getting into his souvenir store on the resort. Instead, it stayed well below it - even below the levels Lake Taneycomo hit in the Christmas 2015 flooding.

On Saturday night most recently, Lilley had to evacuate all his customers - and he was booked full - at the urging of authorities. They didn't want people unfamiliar with the country roads trying to escape rising waters. They also didn't want to endanger themselves.

Now, less than 48 hours after that hasty evacuation, and the harried packing of his shop and anything threatened by water, Lilley is reopening his resort.

"We're going to be opening today," he said. "We've got guests coming in, coming in today."

"Fishing is going to be marginal for awhile," Lilley added. "We had a few that were pretty insistent, so we're going to let the come regardless."

Several major roadways across Southern Missouri were underwater and closed Monday morning, including I-44 from Lebanon to Rolla. Dozens of school district across the area were also closed, due to flooding.

The water being released from Table Rock Dam is part of a system in the Little Rock Basin of the Army Corps of Engineers. Water levels are forecast to go back to normal by the end of the week.