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Deputy saves man from rising water

Heavy rains cause flooding, damage


Heavy rainfall across the area led to flooding across Polk County this week, leading to two water rescues and damage throughout the area.

Polk County Emergency Management Director Rick Davis said many roads were flooded throughout the county Thursday, May 5.

“There are places that have never been flooded before that are now covered in water,” Davis said Thursday evening. 

He said high water led to two water rescues in the early morning hours Thursday. 

A Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputy saved a 70-year-old man stranded on top of a vehicle in rising water near Rt. H and East 480th Road, Sheriff Danny Morrison said. 

Deputies were dispatched to the area for a water rescue at around 12:40 a.m. 

Morrison said the man had crawled through the sunroof of his vehicle as water rapidly rose around him. 

When Deputy Michael Mason arrived on scene, he found the man and his vehicle stuck around 50 yards from where the floodwater met the highway, Morrison said.   

Mason could see the water flowing over the hood of the car and knew the water was still rising, Morrison said, so he acted quickly. 

He took off most of his duty gear and uniform, except his pants and undershirt, and waded through rushing water that was around 4-feet deep and rising. 

When Mason reached the stranded motorist, he took off his belt and tied it around the man to help keep hold of him, Morrison said. The pair walked back through the swiftly rising water to safety.  

Central Polk County Fire Protection District firefighters, Davis said, also rescued another person under Burns Bridge on Rt. AA in rural Polk County early Thursday morning. 

By daylight Thursday, flooded roadways caused complications for local school districts. 

Davis said the Pleasant Hope and Halfway school districts had to divert some school buses 30 to 50 miles on Thursday morning and afternoon to avoid flooded roadways and get children safely to and from school.

The neighboring Dallas County R-1 School District in Buffalo canceled classes Thursday due to widespread flooding, Davis said.   

On Thursday evening, Davis said, multiple roads remained closed to through traffic, including Mo. 215 east of Pleasant Hope and Rt. H north of the town. The Pomme De Terre River crosses both thoroughfares in those locations.

He said Missouri Department of Transportation crews worked quickly to place barricades where they were needed. He also said his office has worked closely with the National Weather Service office in Springfield throughout the weather event. 

By Friday morning, May 6, major roadways were open for traffic, but low water crossings remained flooded, Davis said. 

While City of Bolivar Emergency Management Director Brent Watkins said he has not heard reports of flood damage within city limits, he said rainfall totals have been significant. 

As of Thursday, Bolivar’s wastewater treatment plant had received 3.78 inches of rain.

At least one business in Bolivar city limits was damaged from the heavy rain and floods. 

Sho-Me Muffler and Brake on West Broadway Street lost a large part of the retaining wall under the back part of their building due to flooding Thursday. The wall gave way and slid into the stream running behind the business.

Linda Simmons contributed to this report. 


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