St. Joseph, Elwood residents evacuated by rising river ‘ready to go home’

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- People who live and work on the south side of St. Joseph have had enough of the rising Missouri River.

"Today has been very hectic. We saw the crest earlier today about nine this morning. We saw an elevation of 31 feet with a crest anticipated of 32 feet. At that point, we decided to do a mandatory evacuation," said Mary Robertson, spokesperson for the City of St. Joseph.

Business after business, including the popular Frontier Casino and the Remington Nature Center along the commercial district near 4th Street and Interstate 29, are all under water.

"It's certainly historical statistical information. There were about 7, 500 individuals that needed to be evacuated today. Most of them were industry employees and the rest were residents," Robertson said.

Across the swollen river in nearby Elwood, Kansas, residents evacuated Thursday night, and Friday felt a lot better.

On Friday night about 100 Elwood and Wathena residents packed Riverside High School and hung on to every word city officials said during a community meeting on the rising river.

"Things are looking up," Tammy Moore said.

On Thursday, Moore and her companion, C.J. Garner, evacuated from their home in Elwood.

But on Friday, the couple and many of their neighbors applauded when they heard the "levee was holding steady and strong and that evacuees just might be able to return to their homes on Saturday."

"It's gonna feel really good to move everything back into our home and know that you're safe," Moore said.

"I am retired. I want to get out in the yard. I just want to go home," Garner said.

Joelle and Kevin Umphress and their 18-year-old son, who has autism, are also eager to return to their home in Elwood.

"It's been hard especially trying to explain what's going on to my son. I'm very worried, but I have the faith that everything will be OK," Joelle Umphress said.

In the meantime, officials on both sides of the river are crossing their fingers that it will start to recede. We're told if it drops down to 29-31 feet, the evacuees may be able to return to their homes on Saturday.

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