Commission talks mitigation funds

The Howell County Commission met with engineers and others to make plans for mitigation funding for the 65775 zip code area. Following the historic 2017 flood, FEMA funds were earmarked for five zip codes in southern Missouri, including 65775 in Howell County, to prevent future damage. The commission met with Matt Miller of Toth & Associates, consulting engineers based in Springfield, Missouri who also work with the city of West Plains, and Trent Courtney and Jenny Collins of the South Central Ozark Council of Governments (SCOCOG) during their April 15 meeting.
 
The goals of the meeting were to put plans into motion to identify areas of 65775 in the northern and southern district of Howell County and to identify the most important areas where mitigation funding can be used to prevent further damage. According to Northern Commissioner Calvin Wood, there are roughly 500 miles of county roads in this area that would need to be driven and checked. This funding will need to be used to improve areas such as county roads and bridges that may help prevent damage from a major flood. It was discussed during the meeting that FEMA funds were used to replace bridges that were damaged in the flood but, that funding did not allow for improvements that could mitigate future damage. After a list of potential mitigation areas is created with the assistance of Toth, requests for grant funding can be drafted.
 
One bridge at issue was the Sunset Terrace bridge over Galloway Creek and how the water flow affects areas in the city downstream. One problem area along the Galloway Creek was noted as a privately owned bridge in the city that was the site of water backing up during the 2017 flood.
 
As far as how the funds could be used, Courtney said the funding could be used to potentially replace older bridges with newer, updated construction bridges. Southern Commissioner Billy Sexton mentioned that there are miles of county roads that were damaged during the 2017 flood, with many having a much-reduced width than before the flood.
 
“We get continuous calls of how their road has been shrunk during the flood,” said Sexton. He also mentioned a bridge on White Ranch Road that could use the mitigation funding.
 
The Howell County Commissioners are Presiding Commissioner Ralph Riggs, Northern Commissioner Calvin Wood, and Southern Commissioner Billy Sexton. The commission meets in regular session on Mondays and Thursdays, from 10 am to 3:30 pm. The meetings remain open during the lunch hour and are open to the public. Contact the commissioners' chamber by phone at (417) 256-3872.
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