As the Waynesville area braces for the next round of rain, emergency crews continue to lend a helping hand to those displaced by flooding and to search for a victim believed to have been swept away by raging waters.
Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency in Waynesville and Pulaski County, sending additional resources to help local authorities in the aftermath of near-record flooding.
Nixon made the declaration Tuesday. He spoke with emergency responders in Pulaski County and Waynesville assuring assistance for the region.
Nixon's executive order also activates the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, allowing state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions on emergency services.
The flooding was triggered by excessive rainfall that passed through Waynesville between midnight and mid-Tuesday morning.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, the only confirmed fatality is a 4-year-old boy whose body was found near Mitchell Creek in the western area of the city.
The child, whose name has not been released, is believed to have been swept away when the car he and his mother were in got caught in rising waters near the Price Cutter grocery store and Waynesville Middle School.
Rescue workers were continuing their search for the mother. A highway patrol dive team was still looking for the woman Tuesday evening.
"Nothing indicates that anybody else was in the vehicle besides the 4-year-old and the mother," Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Dan Crain said.
Crain said there are between 100 to 200 homes and businesses damaged, and 50 of those have "substantial damage."
Pulaski County Sheriff Ron Long, who was among first responders, said he had never seen the flooding as bad as it was Tuesday morning.
He estimated residents in as many as 80 homes have been displaced due to rising water along Roubidoux and Mitchell creeks. The number could increase with more rain in the forecast.
The heaviest rainfall occurred between 1 and 2 a.m. on Tuesday and continued through about 5 a.m. when it tapered off to a drizzle.
In a six-hour period, the Waynesville area received about 5.5 inches of rain. In a little more than a 24-hour period, the area received 7.5 inches.
Big Piney and Gasconade rivers could continue to rise depending on rainfall.
Long advised people not to drive through the city limits of Waynesville or St. Robert as creeks continue to rise.
The National Weather Service predicts more showers and thunderstorms to continue through the weekend. Another front was expected to hit the area late Tuesday night into Wednesday.
Meteorologists do not expect it to rain non-stop for the next few days, but do expect periods of heavy precipitation.
Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman said damage was extensive. "This is a very dangerous situation as the Roubidoux begins to crest," Hardman said. "This is not over by a long shot. We have debris over roads and floating propane tanks. Several area emergency response teams are working hard to secure the area."
Page 2 of 2 - Tuesday afternoon, city staff released a statement ordering the evacuation of several residential areas, including those located in the area of Valley Bend, the lower sections of Dyer Street, the lower section of Glenda Drive, portions of Pike Street, South Bates Street, Vine Street, portions of Foster Street, portions of North Street, portions of Pine Street, portions of Booker Road and Roosevelt Street.
Those areas are expected to see increased water levels as more rain moves across the state.
Hardman also advised residents not affected by the flooding to stay in their homes and avoid the areas where crews are working.
Crain said the highway patrol was among several agencies that responded with rescue boats.
He said U.S. Army personnel from Fort Leonard Wood were on standby and ready to be called into action if needed.
"The water conditions are a dangerous situation for anybody no matter how well trained," Crain said, reminding people that "risky behavior can not only put your family or yourself in danger but put the rescuer's life in danger.
"We cannot emphasize enough that it doesn't take more than a foot or two of water to wash away a vehicle and a matter of inches for a person to lose their footing," Crain said.