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Nixon Gets Bird’s Eye View Of Local Storm Damage; Pledges Disaster Aid

Brett Blume
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6/7/13-Governor Jay Nixon (back to camera) listens as local government leaders and levee district officials describe the damage done during last Friday's tornado outbreak, as well as the recent flooding. Nixon told local authorities that the St. Louis region is "nearing a trigger", meaning the minimum threshold that must be met to qualify for federal disaster aid. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

6/7/13-Governor Jay Nixon (back to camera) listens as local government leaders and levee district officials describe the damage done during last Friday’s tornado outbreak, as well as the recent flooding. Nixon told local authorities that the St. Louis region is “nearing a trigger”, meaning the minimum threshold that must be met to qualify for federal disaster aid. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

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ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. (KMOX) -  One way or another, disaster assistance will make its way to the areas hit hardest by last Friday’s rash of tornadoes, as well as the latest round of flooding.

That promise came Friday morning from Missouri Governor Jay Nixon after he toured part of the storm zone by helicopter.

“We’re going to rebuild everything that’s damaged,” Nixon told a roomful of levee district officials and government leaders during a roundtable discussion at the Rivers Pointe Fire Station in West Alton. “We are going to make sure we keep the level of protection that’s designed out there.”

He added help would be forthcoming regardless of whether the state’s request for federal disaster aid is granted or not.

The entire storm zone must reach a threshold of roughly $8 million in order to qualify for assistance.

“We are going to rebuild these levees,” Nixon said. “A couple of years ago we had to patch together all sorts of ways to find the matching funds to get it done. This is not just about writing a check…this is about communities that have been protected and have been vital to this state for many, many years.”

So regardless of the funding source, the governor added, they will find the money to fix all of the damage.

That will be quite a tall order in St. Charles County alone.

County executive Steve Ehlmann pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket to run down the latest numbers on damage for KMOX News.

“It’s a total of about $1.4 million being spent by St. Charles County,” Ehlmann explained. “About $100,000 for the Family Arena, another $70,000 for our airport, and we anticipate spending $600,000 on debris cleanup.”

When damage caused by last Friday’s tornadoes and the recent flooding were tallied up together, St. Charles County had eight homes completely destroyed, 757 additional homes that suffered some degree of damage, and yet another 241 that were left inaccessible as a result of flooding.

Ehlmann said not all of the storm damage expenses are things that immediately come to mind.

“We rented two tub grinders at a (total) cost of $140,000 to grind up all of the tree and limb debris,” according to Ehlmann. “We’re making 750 trips a day with trucks and hauling away eight tons of tree debris.”

Governor Nixon said he realizes what local officials have been up against in recent days and weeks and he praised their efforts.

“You do go to some places where folks expect somebody else to come out and fight their floods for them,” he said. “But in this part of the state you just have to get out of the way because you guys are right there on the front edge. It’s an honor to see the organized effort here. You all have been leading from the front and it shows.”

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