CHARLESTON, Mo. -- Mississippi County commissioners are relying on help from the Missouri National Guard to keep people out of the spillway.
Sgt. William Pedigo and Sgt. 1st Class Ray Alford, liaison officers for the National Guard's 1221st Transportation Company in Dexter, met with county commissioners and Danny Harris, county emergency management director, during the regular county commission meeting Thursday.
The Guard's liaison officers work with county emergency operations centers, local officials and the State Emergency Management Agency to determine a community's most immediate needs.
"What I'm worried about is citizens going out in the spillway in boats," Commissioner Robert Jackson said.
Jackson said partially submerged logs, snags and places to run aground all present hazards to boaters.
"I understand about curiosity," he said, "but I worry about people's safety."
Commissioner Steve Jones said he agrees and noted that there are a lot of center pivot irrigation systems submerged in the spillway that, if hit, would "bounce you right out of the boat."
Presiding Commissioner Carlin Bennett said he began receiving calls from concerned county residents when the Guard was seen pulling out of the area and that the Commission appreciates the Guard returning to help provide security for the floodway.
"Once you pulled out, people immediately began swarming the levee," Bennett said.
Highways 80 and 75 and other routes are blocked with "a combination of concrete barriers and large road block signs," Pedigo said.
"We've got rolling patrols going," Pedigo said.
He explained the National Guard has a checkpoint at Highway 102 and is patrolling between there and Birds Point, checking out people who are accessing the levee.
Pedigo said the plan was to maintain the checkpoint until the third breach was completed after which they would place concrete barriers to block the road. The third breach in the frontline levee was opened by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 2:39 p.m. Thursday to create the second outflow from the floodway back into the Mississippi River.
If it turns out that the two roving patrols are not enough, "we can do more," Pedigo said.
Pedigo said he and Alford would also meet with Richard Wallace, county road and bridge superintendent, to discuss how they could assist in blocking off county roads leading to the spillway or the setback levee.
Pedigo said loads of gravel were dumped on the levee road near its intersection with Highway 60/62 to prevent motorists from driving up to the edge of the breach opened Monday night in the frontline levee at Birds Point to let the river in to the floodway.
Gravel piles make good barriers "and you can use that on the levee later," Pedigo said.
Jones said there are "some places that need to be accessed," however, such as homes that can only be reached from the levee road. "Those can't be blocked by chat and gravel," he said.
There is at least one residence he knows of for sure, he said.
Commissioners also expressed their appreciation for the Guard's assistance.
"We're here for as long as you need us," Pedigo said.
In other business related to the activation of the floodway, County Clerk Junior DeLay advised commissioners a meeting was scheduled at 2:30 p.m. that day at Delta Growers Association on Highway 105 for farm families affected by the intentional flooding of the spillway to discuss possible financial assistance and to discuss any problems those families are facing now.
State and federal officials were slated to attend and advise about "what federal assistance might be available for them," DeLay said.
Harris said Mark Winkler, coordinator for SEMA's Area E, was hoping to schedule a damage assessment tour with commissioners sometime during the weekend.
DeLay said the county could see its total assessed valuation drop from $24 million to $12 million resulting in a critical drop in revenue from property tax for the county, schools and other entities which rely on property tax.
In other business during Thursday's meeting, Donald Bond of Donald Bond Construction in Sikeston met with commissioners to discuss delays due to the weather on the Emergency Watershed Protection Program excavations on Ditch 23 and Ditch 14.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service had set Sept. 29 as the deadline for all work on EWP projects. Jones said that deadline may be adjusted due to the extreme rainfall.
Bond said while he would appreciate having the deadline adjusted, "barring any other event like this, I still think we'll be done."He said about half the work has been completed so far.