FEMA visits Alton, Thayer

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Jan Thompson

Staff Writer

OREGON COUNTY -- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) officials were in Alton and Thayer March 25 conducting what they called a preliminary assessment of the flood of March 18 and 19.

Bryon Boka and other federal and state officials met with Oregon County Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren, Oregon County Emergency Preparedness Director Eric King and Alton Emergency Preparedness Director Sam Barton in the commissioners office at the courthouse at Alton. Later that day they met with Thayer Emergency Management Director Mark Arnold.

Boka said that they were only assessing to see if the county received enough damage from the heavy rains to qualify for state and/or federal assistance.

King told Boka that there were some residents in the county who had water damage in their basements, but as far as he knew, no one had been displaced or had lost their home due to flooding. He said three canoe rentals in the county had been closed for several days due to flooding.

"Most people around here just take care of problems like that themselves. They stayed up all night and pumped or dipped water out of their basement," King said.

He told Boka maybe five or 10 people were out of work at the canoe rentals for a couple of days.

He also said he had received several inquires from farmers about fences that had been washed out due to flooding. Boka said they were only there at the present time to help with housing emergencies.

King was asked several questions during the meeting including if there was a need for counseling in the county due to the flood and if any non-English speaking people were affected.

King replied no to both questions. He said only about five percent of the basements that were flooded were owned by elderly people.

Barton was also asked several questions and said there were probably seven homes in Alton that received basement flooding.

When the federal and state officials arrived in Thayer they also told Arnold they were here for a preliminary assessment.

He showed them a couple of places downtown as well as a businesss just off Front Street that had received some flood damage. "There were a couple of houses in Green Town that had flood water in them," Arnold said.

Arnold said this was just the first phase of trying to receive help from the state or federal government.

"I was told that there were 16 teams from across the state doing just what this team did. They will take their information back to Kansas City and we will see what happens," Arnold said.

According to Arnold, the team will be back this week to assess non-profit and government agencies.


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