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Nixon Tours Waynesville Flood Damage, Focuses on Quick Response

WAYNESVILLE, Mo. -- Governor Jay Nixon stepped foot in the Pulaski County flood zone Thursday just as residents were evacuating.
We're going to make sure this community, like others around the Show-Me State, are rebuilt and functioning as quickly as we can.
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. -- Governor Jay Nixon stepped foot in the Pulaski County flood zone Thursday just as residents were evacuating.

During a briefing inside Waynesville City Hall, Gov. Nixon focused on response rather than recovery from this week's deadly flooding. He met with local and county leaders, law enforcement and emergency response officials.

On Tuesday the governor declared a state of emergency because of the flooding, the following day he ordered the deployment of military police from the Missouri National Guard to assist local authorities.

While on the ground in Waynesville, along the Roubidoux Creek, Gov. Nixon assured residents that in the next few weeks -- and even longer -- he'll have time to look at the recovery efforts.

"There is a long and strong group of folks that are going to help, not only during the disaster for the next couple of days as we have water moving up, but through the recovery process that will last weeks after that. We're going to be here from the beginning. We're going to make sure this community, like others around the Show-Me State, are rebuilt and functioning as quickly as we can."

Right now, especially with some pending weather, he wants to keep the focus on keeping people safe, when and if the waters rise again.

Gov. Nixon toured a neighborhood, and met a woman as she was getting ready to leave her home. He walked alongside members of the Missouri National Guard, Highway Patrol, and toured some of the damage.

Meanwhile, search crews continue a recovery effort for Jessica D. Lee, 23, who is missing and presumed drowned. Her son, 4-year-old Elyjah M. Lee, is the boy who died Tuesday when flood waters swept away the car he and his mother were riding in near Highway 17 and T.

Lee was able to call a relative (when then called 911) before the car was swept away from flood waters of Roubidoux and Mitchell creeks. The car was located late Tuesday, but her body was not inside.

"We've been looking since the moment we received the phone call," says Sheriff Ron Long (full interview above). "We've tried numerous different ways. We've been looking from air, on the ground, and yesterday we had 55-60 individuals -- law enforcement and civilians -- on foot, looking for her."

Waynesville received another heavy rainfall Thursday morning, which delayed the recovery efforts for a few hours.

"Yesterday (Wednesday) was the first time the water had subsided to a point where we could go along these creeks and look in areas that were covered by water. Unfortunately we had 3-4 more inches of rain this morning, the creeks are rising. The rivers are going to rise, which will set us back maybe a day or two."

In McDonald County, emergency management officials confirmed Helen Pendergrast, 69, of Noel, died after her vehicle was swept away by flood waters.

National Weather Service meteorologist Drew Albert said parts of southwest Missouri got 10 inches of rain overnight. McDonald County in the far southwest corner of the state was inundated with rain that seemingly came all at once.

In Taney County, flooding washed away homes in the Hidden Valley residential area, where the water rose 15 feet in 30 minutes.

Resident Christian Hutson told KOLR10, "we had to jump off because the trailer would have hit us. The tree slipped by and knocked us off the roof, so we hung out on the basketball goal for about two hours."
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