Clarksville leaders not paying for flood protection efforts

CLARKSVILLE, Mo. (KSDK) - It happens nearly every year: the small Mississippi River town of Clarksville, Missouri gets flooded. But this year the town's board made the decision not to financially support a flood event that is expected to hit next week.

The sight is familiar; the work is second nature. This year the plan has changed; the town board has voted not to fund flood protection efforts, like sandbagging.

"It's a wrenching decision because you just stand here and watch and think I can't just watch the town go under and do nothing," says Clarksville Mayor Jo Anne Smiley.

The mayor says last year's flood event cost them $400,000 and they just got finished paying for it.

"We were depleted in the end of June and this is July 1 and here we are again, it's like, you know, c'mon let's take a breath," Smiley says.

She says they city simply can't afford another one and if they tried it could bankrupt the town.

The river is expected to crest next week at 34 feet, which could damage several shops and homes.

Downtown business owner Margie Greenwell says she understands where the town is coming from, with hesitation.

"It was difficult to think of just walking away, and letting it go, so probably within 20 minutes after the meeting, we were already working on a plan," says Greenwell.

That plan includes using leftover materials from last year, like barricades, sand, plastic and bags.

Homeowners whose properties sit on the river are also coming up with their own plan.

Thomas Bankhead spent nearly $10,000 on hesco baskets, which can be filled with sand and used in combat to protect soldiers from bullets, and to protect homes from rising waters.

"Whatever I have to spend, it's just what I'm going to spend," says Bankhead.

The mayor says they are trying to get help from AmeriCorps and local prisoners.

There is a group on Facebook called "Save Clarksville" where you can donate money to help them buy supplies.


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