Although many homes were damaged or destroyed by record flooding in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri, residents there seem determined to rebuild. but it’s not going to be easy. And apparently the federal government has some hard questions to answer from the county.
The Waynesville Daily Guide spoke to some residents of the Route 66 town and provided some details about the horrific damage sustained to its landmarks:
The iconic Elbow Inn reported that they had five feet of water in their building. Susan Denning Roberson, owner, told the Daily Guide they were going to have to “gut” the inside of the building.
Historic Sheldon’s Market, home of the Devils Elbow post office, had water reaching the roof and residents were working diligently Tuesday to clean it out, shovel out the mud, and remove flood-damaged items from the structure.
The newspaper also reported that several homes in the town were knocked off their foundations by floodwaters and even carried down the river.
During a Pulaski County commissioners meeting Thursday, residents said they raised their residences and structures based on floodplain maps available at the time. More from the Daily Guide:
County Surveyor Don Mayhew was present at the meeting to discuss inaccuracies with Pulaski County’s flood plain maps, pointing to several Devils Elbow residents in attendance at the meeting as having followed recommendations based on those maps.
“They elevated their structure based on the maps that were available,” Mayhew said.
In one case, one resident even went a couple of feet above the recommendation for elevation and that structure had several feet of water in it through this flood.
“We’re either getting more rain or the maps are wrong,” Mayhew said.
Hydrology reports show the Big Piney River, which runs through Devil’s Elbow, rose eight feet above the previous record flood more than 100 years ago.
Pulaski County commissioners told flood victims they have tried without success to get reimbursed from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for projects related to floods in 2013 and 2015, and the county’s road and bridge fund is “broke” because of it.
One commissioner, Ricky Zweerink. blamed the EPA and the state’s Department of Natural Resources that prevents dredging of the Big Piney.
“We can’t clean the gravel out of them… When the bathtub is full before you start, it’s got to go somewhere,” Zweerink said.
Residents are urged to contact their congressmen and senators to get federal relief from the disaster. The federal government will declare a disaster only when the governor requests it and assesses the damage.
(Image of Devil’s Elbow during recent flooding; hat tip to Jax Welborn on the story)