CRAIG, Mo. — A last-ditch effort to save the small town of Craig from flooding failed, forcing those left behind to finally evacuate.
On Monday, the Missouri River’s flood water was still on the west side of town, and people living in Craig thought they’d be OK. On Tuesday, the water continued to rise, but people remained hopeful. About 60 residents in the town of less than 300 stuck around.
Residents continued to build a temporary levee up until 9 a.m. Wednesday morning — when it gave out. That’s when town officials finally forced those left to evacuate.
“I’ve been with the district since 1993 and we’ve never had water like this here,” said EMS Chief Gene Bradley with the Atchison-Holt Ambulance District.
The National Weather Service in Kansas City said on Twitter that the Missouri River is discharging at 315,000 feet per second in Rulo, Nebraska, just to the south of Craig.
To put that number into perspective, NWS said that’s enough water to fill Arrowhead Stadium in under 9 minutes.
Bradley’s team along with rescue crews from the Missouri State Highway Patrol spent much of Wednesday making sure the last few residents got out safely.
And after rescuing seven people and a cat and dog from their homes, by Wednesday night, Craig was completely empty.
Bradley estimates the water levels in Craig range anywhere from 6-8 inches up to 3 feet.
“It’s varying in depth, and it’s still coming up,” he said.
They aren’t just worried about how high the water is, but also about the water’s temperature, which at last check was at a chilly 35 degrees.
“The water is extremely cold, so if anybody gets in the water, they’re going to have hypothermia really quick,” Bradley said.
While first responders tended to those who needed rescuing, people like Russ Northup from nearby Mound City came to check on his grain bins about a half-mile from the water’s edge.
“I think this is going to be the worst we’ve ever seen,” he said.