Morehouse cleaning up following spring flooding

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Roger Claussen with the Mennonite Disaster Service completes cleanup on a lot at the corner of Cass and Locust streets in Morehouse. The city has removed 62 houses which were damaged by the spring flooding as work continues in the community. (Jill Bock/Standard Democrat)

MOREHOUSE, Mo. -- The Dumpsters are filling up as efforts continue to restore a community devastated by this spring's high water.

Already 62 homes in this small community are razed. Another three houses, said Mayor Pete Leija, and that portion of the cleanup will be done.

"I think people can see that progress is being made. The houses have come down pretty rapidly in the past two weeks," he said, noting those emptying the Dumpsters can't keep up with the demolition.

"There is continuous progress going on," Leija said. "But I'm looking forward to the end of the rubble."

While he is looking forward to recovery, the whole process is frustrating, the mayor said. Leija said he has had to deal with lots of paperwork and regulations on the federal and state levels.

But the most frustrating of all is the promised funding for recovery is nowhere to be seen.

"The federal government has a way of wanting things done in a certain order but also has a way of dragging their feet," he said.

Right now, Leija said, all the money for the work is coming from city coffers.

Angi Duncan, city clerk, said the city has already spent more than $70,000 for flood recovery efforts. "We still have bills waiting to be paid. Fortunately we have very kind and patient people waiting for me to get money to pay them," said Duncan.

City officials estimated the costs incurred have included equipment rental, cleaning supplies, Dumpsters and debris removal.

Duncan said after tallying what it cost to clean up the city building, it made her realize what daunting costs individual homeowners must face as they work to rebuild their homes.

However, there are a few bright spots.

The Morehouse mayor had high praise for the many volunteers who assisted with the cleanup efforts immediately following the flood. Another at the top of his list is Roger Claussen with the Mennonite Disaster Service.

Describing Claussen as a "one-man army," he said the volunteer arrived with his own equipment and has worked tirelessly in bringing down the houses and removing debris.

"If it hadn't been for him, I don't know where we would be," said Leija.

Also assisting in the cleanup are workers provided through a jobs program, however, Leija said they are not allowed to work on private property.

As far as further assistance, Leija said there is a need for individuals who are skilled in carpentry who would like to volunteer their time to aid those trying to restore their homes. Volunteer carpenters can contact city hall for further information.

I"m ready to get this town back together right now," said Leija. "These people have been homeless for four months. ... [We] need recovery right now."

Pertinent address:

Morehouse, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: