Missouri Mops Up as Flood Waters Recede
JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, March 24, 2008 (ENS) - Flood waters are retreating along the Meramec River and in other flooded areas of Missouri, and state and federal emergency management officials are beginning the task of assessing damage in 70 counties that were declared a disaster by President George W. Bush.

Up to a foot of rain fell across the central United States last week, and Missouri bore the brunt of the storm. Five people died due to flooding and fast rising rivers and thousands of others were forced to evacuate.

Starting this week, state and federal emergency management teams will view damage in each of the flooded counties to determine the economic impact, officials said.

U.S. Coast Guard crewmembers rescue two victims and their pet from their flooded home in Eureka, Missouri. March 20, 2008 (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jaclyn Young courtesy USCG)

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is waiving some of the state's solid waste regulations to give Missourians and Missouri communities affected by last week's flooding additional flexibility in their cleanup efforts.

The waiver will allow vegetative waste, such as brush and yard waste, and home appliances, which are normally excluded from permitted sanitary landfills, to be taken to landfills if the landfill agrees to accept the waste.

The department continues to strongly encourage, but not require, recycling these materials where practical. The waiver applies only to yard waste and appliances and does not allow disposal of other items normally prohibited in sanitary or demolition landfills.

Cities and counties should coordinate collection of damaged appliances so refrigerants can be legally recovered from air conditioners, freezers and refrigerators before recycling or disposal.

All provisions of this waiver are in effect until May 31 unless extended.

The Department of Natural Resources, DNR, is aware wastewater bypassing has occurred during the flood. In light of this situation, the department will take into account the circumstances of each individual occurrence.

The DNR has begun locating fuel tanks and other potentially hazardous containers displaced by last week's flooding and is asking for the public's help.

Working with the Missouri Highway Patrol, emergency responders from the Department of Natural Resources' Environmental Emergency Response Section began flights over the Black, Gasconade and Meramec rivers today, looking for abandoned propane and fuel tanks and any unidentified drums that might have been swept up by the floodwaters that inundated south and eastern Missouri. Responders will also be conducting additional searches by water.

The department is asking members of the public who find abandoned fuel containers to contact the department's 24-hour spill line at (573) 634-2436.

After the locations of these containers are determined, the department will work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on determining the quickest way to safely remove and transport the containers to a staging area managed by the EPA.

Information on what people can do in dealing with their home cleanups after the flood is available on the department's disaster webpage at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/disaster.htm, or at the Department of Health and Senior Services at www.dhss.mo.gov/BT_Response/Nat_Disaster/index.htm.

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