Current River Bridge open to traffic in Doniphan, flood cleanup continues

DONIPHAN, MO (KFVS) – Original Post

My work was also featured on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.

The Current River Bridge in Doniphan is back open after the river ran out of its banks.

The police and fire department phone numbers returned to the old, pre-flood numbers on Tuesday, May 2; however, 911 is still out.

According to police, the temporary numbers will stop working at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

Engineers with the Missouri Department of Transportation inspected the bridge Tuesday morning and determined it is still structurally sound.

Sheriff Mike Barton said there are at least 20 businesses dealing with high water. This includes several banks, stores, Sonic and more that may be total losses.

Two business owners talked about the moment they saw the water coming.

“Scary. It was very scary, not knowing what it’s going to do,” said Bob Cape, owner of Aire Serve. “Are you going to go to work the next day or have a business the next day? You don’t know.”

“It was surreal,” Kenny Smith, owner of Two Brothers Appliance, said. “It was a moment of, ‘Wow. A tide is coming in like at the ocean, but it’s not leaving like it would at the ocean,’ so it was kinda scary. Yes, it was.”

The City Hall, Sheriff’s Department and Police Station were severely damaged.

The department is now operating out of the Ripley County Ambulance Shed.

The First Church of God was also under water. They have multiple buildings, but only the upper level of one can be used.

Pastor Lary Earl believed the water was around six feet high. You can see couches, tables and even hymnals floating in the auditorium.

Earl said he’s never seen anything like it.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” Earl said. “One of our oldest members was just here and he’s never seen anything like this, and every generation the church was able to build a new church, so we don’t know what we’re going to do but if we rebuild here or rebuild somewhere else, I know God’s in control and we’re going to be okay. It’s just stuff. But still, 35 years of my ministry is sitting down there water-soaked.”

All of his sermons, notes and files are gone.

He also said they lost a kitchen full of refrigerators and appliances.

However, Earl said he’s inspired by the outpouring of support from churches offering to help rebuild.

Sheriff Barton said the Current River crest hit lower than expected at 30 feet. Even at that level, they’ve never seen water so high.

There have been about half-dozen rescues by boat. Sheriff Barton said they’ve had to rescue people who tried to drive through high water and some who did not get out of their cabins fast enough.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop E said officers responded off of Route H at CRD 12 in Ripley County and there were 12 total rescues at that location, including three children and one dog.

Trp E officers responded off Rt H at CRD 12, in Ripley Co. 12 total rescues at this location including 3 children and one dog. 

The Cape Girardeau Fire Department posted on Facebook that members of the Southeast Missouri Homeland Security Response Team completed eight to 10 rescue evacuations near the Doniphan area on Sunday.

One of those removed was a 100-year-old resident.

The response team consists of the fire department, Sikeston Department of Public Safety and Jackson Fire Rescue.

Sheriff Barton is asking everyone in his county to stay home unless they really need to get out.

Tetanus shots are available to those that need one at His Place Church. The church is also serving as a shelter.

Southeast Health Center of Ripley County in Doniphan has a short-term phone number because of phone line interruptions. If you need to reach the center, you can call 573-707-3626.

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