Farmers move out of Missouri River bottoms as floodwaters rise

Gallery: Families scramble to move equipment, crops and livestock

Tuesday, May 2, 8:30 p.m. and Brian Ley is in full evacuation mode. As dusk gives way to darkness, he can still see the water inching its way up to the pavement that separates his grain bins from the waters of the Missouri River. "It is coming," he says. "We had to make a decision, so we decided to just go. Better to be safe than sorry."

Ley already lost his 2017 cropland to the river. "We farm that ground as well," he says, pointing across the road from his grain bins to a farm field completely filled with river water and debris.

The family farms in both Warren and Franklin counties. This is the second time in two years they are hustling to move corn out of the bins and equipment onto higher ground. It happened in December 2015. "They say the water is going higher," Ley says. "That will get us this time."

Friends and family work feverishly to pry grain dryers from their mounts. "We take anything electrical we can," he says. They also emptied the grain bin of stored corn. "It wasn't a lot," Ley says, "but we had to get it out."

The Leys were not alone. It was a sight that played out all across southern Warren County along Highway 47 and Highway 94 in what is known as the Missouri River Bottoms. Pickup trucks with trailers gathered at homes clearing out household goods. Tractors and equipment were moved to neighbors' land that sits higher on the bluff. Families, friends and neighbors worked into the night trying to steer clear of the river's wrath.

At the Leys’ farm, the Missouri River is expected to crest at 31.1 feet, the fifth highest crest on record, according to the National Weather Service. Upstream, farmland along Highway 94 could see the river crest at 35.3 feet near Hermann.

Water topping roadways caused many to be closed. With two more days of rain setting in across this region of the state, water levels will likely continue to rise, threatening even more farm ground and farm homes.

 

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