The Big Piney River at Dog's Bluff access in April 2011. The water was at the 16-foot mark above flood stage. (File photo)

Multiple days of rain sent rivers out of their banks this week, closing roads, filling basements and creating raging streams in normally dry patches of Texas County.

Damage is extensive to township roads and bridges. An estimate Tuesday put the tally in excess of $1 million.

By Wednesday, nearly 11 inches of rainfall were recorded in the Houston area, where west of town the Big Piney River expanded further beyond its banks daily. Overnight Monday the river crested at about 19 feet above flood stage. Near a low-water slab north of Grand Avenue, Brushy Creek grew into two tributaries. A calm stream in Houston’s Emmett Kelly Park was roaring. Widespread flooding caused Gov. Jay Nixon to activate the Missouri National Guard on Monday to southern Missouri, where in Poplar Bluff a levee breached in two places.

“I have directed Maj. General (Steve) Danner to immediately move guard units into place where they can best help in protecting health and property,” Gov. Nixon said. “The citizen-soldiers and airmen of the Missouri National Guard have demonstrated their ability to help with natural disasters numerous times over the years, most recently in the work they did before, during and after the blizzard and record snowstorm this winter. I have full confidence in the guard to assist local emergency officials around the state.” Nixon earlier declared a state of emergency in Missouri on Friday.

Several highways closed in the county at the height of the heavy rainfall – two of them were near the Piney River: Highway BB at Boiling Springs and Highway RA near Baptist Camp. At times, Highway ZZ at White Rock and Highway U near Cabool were also unpassable. On Jack Tar Hollow Road a vehicle was reported to have floated away.

Flood warnings by the National Weather Service expired and renewed during the Easter weekend before more significant weather began falling again Monday. Residents in low areas and property prone to flooding were warned frequently. Early Saturday, the Texas County Rescue Squad was dispatched to Cloverdale Road near U.S. 63 and Highway Z after three people were reported trapped inside a vehicle surrounded by water. No one was injured. Later that afternoon, pea-size hail fell twice in the Houston area. The previous night, larger-sized hail was reported in northwest Texas County.

For some property owners the problem was not flooding, but water seeping into basements. Pumps hummed from homes.

Infrastructure also was slammed in the county. A long-time township official says this week’s flooding is the worst he has seen in 30 years.

Jack Watson of the Cass Township board reported three roads were closed Monday south of Houston. Box culverts washed away on Oak Grove and Bennett roads. A low-water slab is gone on Brown Road.

“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” Watson said as rain continued to fall.

“The water is so high. We’re putting gravel in and it’s just washing it away. And it’s big gravel,” Watson said. The township successfully fixed it, and it is reopened.

Members of the Texas County Township Advisory Board met Monday night in Houston to discuss the situation. Twelve of the county’s 17 townships attended, and a tally of damage exceeded more than $1 million, Watson said.

In Clinton Township, some repairs made Monday were washed away with two inches of rain later that night, said County Commissioner John Casey.

County and township officials are hopeful that a disaster declaration will eventually bring FEMA dollars for repairs. Those gathered were told to take pictures, as well as document their costs and labor.


Early: A preliminary report shows more than $1 million in damage to township roads and bridges from recent flooding in Texas County.

Representatives of several townships gathered in Houston on Monday night to discuss the situation, and the possibility that FEMA may ultimately offer financial relief for the repair work. Those gathered were told to keep records of their time and expenses.

Work continued at several troublespots today as the forecast calls for more rain.

The National Weather Service said late this afternoon that another round of rain and thunderstorms is expected this afternoon into tonight. The primary risks are hail and damaging winds. The heaviest rain is expected in south-central Missouri, it said.

“This additional rainfall will pose an elevated to significant risk for more flash flooding,” the weather service said. Showers with embedded thunderstorms will likely continue into Wednesday afternoon, according to a bulletin issued at about 3:50 p.m.


Earlier: Rain on Monday dropped another 2.8 inches of rain on the Houston area, swelling already expanding rivers and streams.

Overnight, the Big Piney River at Dog’s Bluff access west of Houston crested at about 19 feet. By 7 a.m. Tuesday, it was at the 15.5-foot mark.

Texas County continues under a flash flood warning until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The National Weather Service predicts that another round of rain and thunderstorms is expected late this afternoon into the evening. Large hail and damaging winds are possible in south-central Missouri, it says.


Earlier: Damage to roads and bridges is extensive in Texas County, where township officials were set to meet this evening to assess the situation. Highways RA, BB and U remain closed.

The National Weather Service said additional heavy rainfall is expected this evening. An additional half to three inches is possible before ending during the mid to late evening hours. The weather service said a lot is riding on whether a front in northern Arkansas moves into southern Missouri. If it does, damaging wind and tornadoes may develop.

A brief break in the rainfall is expected to last through most of Tuesday. However, another round is expected late Tuesday afternoon into early Wednesday.

Earlier: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Monday that he was activating the Missouri National Guard to southern Missouri in advance of heavy rains predicted to reach the area.

At Dog’s Bluff Access west of Houston, the Big Piney River is raging out of control. Water was lapping the 16-foot mark on one of the bridge’s piers earlier this morning. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Texas County until 2 a.m. Tuesday.

“Additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches this morning will produce dangerous and life threatening flash flooding,” it said. “Streams and low water crossings will be especially susceptible to the dangers of flash flooding. Many roads and low water crossings are flooded and closed.”

The Missouri Department of Transportation said these roads are closed in Texas County.

—Highway BB at Boiling Springs.

—Highway ZZ at White Rock.

—Highway RA at Baptist Camp Access.

—Highway U at Solo.

An advisory board of townships in the county is expected to meet this evening, and an assessment of damage is expected to be made.


Updated at 3:13 p.m. Sunday: It’s going to be a soggy Easter Sunday with the threat of severe thunderstorms, heavy rains and flooding, the National Weather Service is predicting.

The weather service says there is a significant to extreme risk of nasty weather Sunday and heading into the first of the week.

Rain on Saturday already put streams and rivers out of their banks. Texas County is under a flood warning until 8 p.m.

These highways are closed, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation:

—Highway BB at Boiling Springs.

—Highway ZZ at White Rock.

—Highway RA at Baptist Camp Access.

—Highway U at Solo.


Updated at 2:04 p.m.: Storms passed through Texas County last night, dropping hail, heavy rain and prompting the sounding of tornado sirens in Houston. Early Saturday, the Texas County Rescue Squad was called to a water rescue at Simmons.

The National Weather Service says more rain is expected during the next several days. The heaviest may occur Sunday night into Monday. Expect three to five inches, it says.

The weather service said flooding may develop along the Big Piney River.

Runoff is causing streams and lower water crossings to be susceptible to the dangers of flooding. Rescuers were called at about 1 o’clock Saturday morning on Cloverdale Road south of Highway Z and U.S. 63 after three persons were trapped in a vehicle.

Earlier in the evening, hail was reported falling in northern and northwest Texas County. A tree was reported down near the Brushy Creek Bridge north of the county justice center. Highway BB near the Piney Bridge is closed, MoDOT reports.

Texas County also is a flood watch until Monday afternoon.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply