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Triple hit in MO town

BY PJ HELLER | CARROLLTON, Mo. | October 8, 1998

CARROLLTON, Mo. (Oct. 8, 1998) -- Residents in this small farming

community took a triple hit this week when a fierce Midwest downpour caused

flash flooding.

Not only were some people forced from their homes, but the soybean crop

waiting to be harvested may have been severely damaged. On top of that, two

of the major businesses in town -- one of them a farm supply store -- may

pack up and move out to avoid future flooding.

"So we're struggling," said Pastor Joe Barone of the First Christian

Church and former president of the area's ministerial alliance. "We have a

lot of things to face."

The area is no stranger to flooding, having suffered a major disaster in

1993 when the Missouri River, about 10 miles away, spilled its banks.

Several creeks in the area routinely overflow, but those help keep the

farmlands damp and fertile.

"The flood this week wasn't at the stage of the 1993 flood," Barone

said. "I was here in '93 and I don't want to go through that again."

HELP (Harmonized Efforts to Lessen Poverty) Services, created by the

ministerial alliance to respond to community needs, was born out of the

1993 flood. It consists of both faith-based organizations and civic and

governmental agencies.

"After the '93 flood, the ministerial alliance asked how it could help

the community," Barone recalled. "We were facing two things: the flood and

the fact that local governmental agencies were doing less and less."

In the most recent incident, some 15 Carrollton families were forced

from their homes when flash flooding hit on late Sunday night. They sought

refuge with friends, family or local motels. They were expected to be back

in their homes within a week.

HELP Services opened its food pantry, allowing affected residents to

come and pick up needed grocery supplies. No meals were provided or served,

as was done during the 1993 flood, Barone noted.

In Kansas City, Mo., meantime, rescue workers continued to search for

more bodies from the flash floods which were reported to be the worst in 20

years. At least eight people were reported dead by the deluge that swept

away cars and collapsed a bridge.

More than eight inches of rain fell on the area, according to the

National Weather Service. Mennonite Disaster Services helped residents

with the clean-up efforts.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Roger Wilson declared a state of emergency for the

entire state. Damage estimates were in the millions of dollars.

The situation was much the same in neighboring Kansas, where at least

six counties were affected by the storm. About 80 homes suffered major

flood damage, according to the American Red Cross. The Salvation Army

provided meals and other necessities to affected residents there as well as

in Missouri.

No injuries or deaths were reported in Carrollton.

Barone said that flash flood was not only a "great disaster" for

Carrollton residents but also for area farmers, who he said are already

struggling with the low prices they receive for their cattle.

"Farm prices are extremely low," he said. "In some cases, they are as

low as they were in the '40s."

That fact, coupled with what he said would be major crop losses from

this week's flooding, could drive more farmers off their land. The town's

population has dwindled since the 1993 flood.

Barone said one area farmer has predicted that there will be several

farms on the market in January.

"I suspect that's going to be the case," he said. "We're changing. It's

not necessarily for the good. It's not necessarily for ways that we like.

But the fact of the matter is small farmers are struggling and going out of

business.

"These things, like the floods in '93 and the flash flood (this week)

just accelerate that change," he said.

Update Oct. 9, 1998


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