Some NW Missouri residents evacuating, some staying as flood waters begin to rise

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HOLT COUNTY, Mo. — Hundreds of Holt County, Missouri residents are evacuating their homes, seeking safety from water rushing down river.

The center of the flooding is Big Lake, Missouri, located about an hour north of St. Joseph, Missouri, off Interstate-29, near the Nebraska border.

Even finding a road to get to the Missouri town with a population of 145 is a challenge since Holt County’s main drag State Road 159 is completely under water.

County emergency management tells FOX4 the communities near Big Lake and neighboring Fortesque are on the edges of their seats as the rising Missouri River threatens their property. Bursting from its banks at a reported 20 feet above its normal levels.

Melissa Kelmel and her family maker their home in Fortesque. Just a few yards from a levee that’s holding flood waters for the time being.

“The safety. The safety for my family and my neighbors and my kids,” Kelmel said. “That’s part of the reason we kept our kids home from school today.”

People are in danger and so is wildlife, including cattle and deer that can’t easily escape.

Tom Bullock is the county’s director of emergency management. He said the river is supposed to crest around 26 feet and 9 inches later in the week. But until then, it’s rising.

“We have a few who are sticking around,” Bullock said. “They’re stubborn but we’re prepared to get them out if we have to. They have cell phones. They’re in there for the long haul. They have food and water and a generator. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to getting them out.”

Farmers, including Bryson Evans, who said his home is safe, are concerned for the community’s people and the crops that keep them housed.

“For small town people, it’s not really just friends,” said Evans. “You bond as a family pretty much. If one person goes down, you want to help that person but you want to help everyone else too, and it just makes your day rougher than what it should be.”

After flood waters recede, Bullock said FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will likely be contacted to help repair homes and roadways. The trouble is, that could take some time. There’s more rain in the forecast for Tuesday and this weekend, which isn’t the news these people were hoping to hear.

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