POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KAIT) – Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard Monday to help with response efforts in parts of the state impacted by flooding and threats to levees after receiving significant rain, particularly in southern and southeast Missouri.
"I have directed Maj. General 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."
Under the Governor's order, Guard units will be deployed immediately to assist local emergency responders with threats to levees near Poplar Bluff and other communities.
The rising water of the Black River in Butler County is forcing many in the area to evacuate their homes.
"Getting out of bed and walking through the water first thing wasn't what I was anticipating," said Kenneth Kimbro.
Kimbro is one of more than a hundred Poplar Bluff residents who evacuated his home. At three o'clock Monday morning, a knock on his door alerted him to the imminent danger.
"Coming out of the house I had at least three and a half feet of water to wade through to get to the vehicle," said Kimbro.
Rising water along the Black River has led to several breeches along the levees. The Butler County Sheriff's Department has closed several county roads and deputies are going door to door asking residents to evacuate while they can.
"This is the levee. The road would be to my right. I was here no more than ten minutes ago and where I'm standing now wasn't under water," said Sheriff Mark Dobbs.
Dobbs said he believes the water flowing over the levee is rising at a rate of a foot an hour and as that water continues to flow out, residents along county roads 605, 607 and 608 are in danger.
"At this point it is getting to where the roads are impassible there is so much water spilling over the levee," said Dobbs.
Jeanette Elliott lives about a mile from the levee. She and her family are getting ready to leave.
"I'm going to ship my kids to three different family members and I'm going to go to one of them," said Elliott.
It is very hard for people to leave their homes. This is the first time flooding has forced Kimbro from his house and he worries about what he will go back home to.
"My heart is hurting already I couldn't think it could get any worse," said Kimbro.
As rain continues to fall and the water continues to rise so does the level of fear. Many evacuees are staying at a shelter that is set up inside the Black River Coliseum and are leaning on each other.
"I'm overwhelmed, very overwhelmed and I'm scared inside and I think I'm just going to have to be praying," said Kimbro.
A shelter has been set up at the Black River Coliseum. If you have any questions or concerns you're asked to contact the Poplar Bluff Police Department at 573-686-8685.