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Missouri Gov. Nixon tours flooded towns along the Mississippi

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CLARKSVILLE, MO (KTVI) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon toured flood zones along the Mississippi River Saturday with both anxiety and the water on the rise. He was in Clarksville and Winfield.

Things looked promising in one town but precarious in the other – with concerns spreading even farther downriver.
There are few places where you can walk to the end of the block see the river overtaking the city park along with part of 1st Street and come away feeling reassured.

It is in Clarksville which has flooded 7 of the 10 years Jo Anne Smiley has been mayor. So, things look pretty good considering.

“The folks in Clarksville are fighting this flood. It’s a fight they can win. This river’s still going to come up 2 more feet. You can already see it rising. You can see the debris coming with it,” Governor Nixon said after touring the town’s riverfront with Smiley.

“It’s just a matter of it coming so often. We are now having it every year. That’s hard on the budget for sure. But it’s also hard on the minds and souls and hearts of the people here,” the mayor said.

The river mostly surrounded the lawn of the historic Bankhead home again on 1st Street again but had yet to reach the building. The governor directed the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to provide resources like equipment to haul sand and inmates to fill and stack sandbags. The river was expected to rise just two more feet before cresting.

Thomas Bankhead wasn’t overly concerned, yet. Water might reach his cellar but nothing more.

“I’m dodging it for a few days. You don’t want to be smug about it because it can come back and get you,” Bankhead said.
“It isn’t as bad as it looks,” the mayor said.

It may be worse than it looks near Winfield. Creek levees have washed out and overtopped.Friday’s flash flooding may just be a foreshadowing, with the Mississippi’s projected crest there expected to be above the top of the levee.

“When you get levees as soaked as they are right now, then you begin to have the failure of those levees in places that are unpredictable. So we’ve got to keep on our toes as these water levels remain high,” Nixon said.

There are rising concerns far down river from here; south of St. Louis in Ste. Genevieve.

“We have flood fighting teams there. They’re there to assess what the immediate response will be,” said Col. Anthony Mitchell of the Army Corps of Engineers.

In Clarksville, at least, the response seemed to be, ‘hey, we’ve got this’.

“They’re open for business. These are flood fights we’re going to, in the short run, win here. While we needed some help to get that, the long term help we obviously need is to continue to shop here,” the governor said, urging people to keep Clarksville in their Summer plans.

Smiley’s been seeking state and federal funding for a reusable, temporary flood wall, to protect the town when the river rises. She's had no luck so far.