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Rain Pounds Missouri Town, Floods Rivers


In Missouri, several communities have been ravaged by flooding. Among the hardest hit is Waynesville.


The town of about 5,000 people has been pounded by storms, including some seven inches of rain on Tuesday and another six inches yesterday. Nearby rivers and creeks have overflowed.

WERTHEIMER: One child has died there in a flash flooding and the search goes on for the body of a woman believed to be the child's mother.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: This mother and young child got caught in the rushing water and got washed off. We found the car, the little boy was in it, and we have not found the mother. And that, of course, just breaks our heart.

WERTHEIMER: That is Luge Hardman, she is the mayor of Waynesville, Missouri. Before becoming mayor she was a schoolteacher for decades. Hardman says the floods are the worst she's ever seen.

MAYOR LUGE HARDMAN: We lost 47 homes destroyed, hundred that were flooded, probably really bad, and then we do have some businesses out here in west Waynesville; for example, we have a veterinary clinic. We have a cafe. Both of those places have been flooded.

WERTHEIMER: Some businesses are debating whether it's worth rebuilding. That veterinary clinic the mayor mentioned is the Cross Creek Animal Hospital, which will survive. Owner Deanna Tolliver rushed to the building before sunrise yesterday. She says she found water knocking at the front door, but neighbors ready to help.

DEANNA TOLLIVER: I mean I must have the best friends and the greatest employees and greatest clients in the world because we had people showing up with wet vacs and all those things you use to push water out, big push brooms, and I've had people stop by from the Chamber of Commerce. One of the other veterinarians in town has come by and offered help. And that's been really good.

MONTAGNE: Tolliver says all of the dogs in the hospital are fine. One of the people who came by from the Chamber of Commerce was Mike Freeman. He says he showed up with items from the car dealership where he's general manager.

MIKE FREEMAN: We have large fans at the store. In fact, we have nine of them. They're big fans that turn a lot of air and that's why I stopped there. I started there because that was the first business that was effected and then kind of went downriver from there.

WERTHEIMER: Freeman says the fans were also used to help other businesses and a nearby church.

FREEMAN: This is something that folks would do for us. I mean this is what you do for one another. They are our neighbors, not only business neighbors. They're friends, they're acquaintances, they're family members and on and on. Our fans are just a small gesture to help them dry their businesses out so they can get back up and going, and we will go forward. This community will go forward.

WERTHEIMER: Missouri's governor has also sent in 50 National Guardsman to help out.

MONTAGNE: Several hundred people who had been evacuated were cleared to return home late yesterday. But more rain is expected in Waynesville through tomorrow. And those folks could be evacuated again if the weather takes another turn for the worst. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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