CLAY COUNTY — Precipitation in all forms has impacted Missouri, particularly Clay County since the start of the year.
Clay County Assistant County Administrator for Facilities Brad Garrett said May was officially the wettest on record, breaking a 131-year record.
“The Highway W bridge, there’s currently a clearance of 5 feet 8 inches under it right now. At the Collins Road bridge, it has a clearance of 6 feet 6 inches under it right now,” he said last week, adding bridge clearance is 8 feet below normal. Most times, there’s more than a dozen feet clearance.
County staff, Garrett said, has been working hard to mitigate issues related to flooding including sandbagging in Missouri City, closing Rocky Hollow and Tryst Falls parks and moving courtesy boat ramps at Smithville Lake multiple times per day to prevent them from being completely underwater.
“We’ve also had to shut off the electric through docks E, F and G at Paradise Point Marina,” he said. “The disconnect for those docks is underwater.” The disabilities-accessible dock at Crow’s Creek was also closed as of last week due to being covered in water.
Paradise Pointe Golf Complex also suffered somewhat from recent flooding. As of June 6, golfers were discouraged from using the Posse course at Clay County’s Paradise Pointe Golf Complex as water impeded the cart path near holes 3 and 4 and other areas.
In addition to some areas of the Posse course being impacted by flooding, the Outlaw golf course, while playable, has higher waters around holes 10, 11 and 17. Last week, golfers were seen on the course playing as geese swam on the greens.
While encroaching on some areas, regular county golf course users said flooding issues from storms this spring have not been as bad as in 2015 when 27 of 36 holes were unplayable.
Other attempts to mitigate issues
To mitigate further issues, Smithville Lake and the dam, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, continue to hold water.
“The lake is eight feet above regular pool level,” Smithville Lake Operation Project Manager Lora Vacca said.
Garrett said the Corps decides to release water from the lake depending on the safety of people and property downstream.
“They will not open the dam until the Platte River and the Missouri River have subsided,” he said.
“Right now, for Smithville, it is the best thing we can do, hold water. ... There is too much water downstream to safely release any, so we are in good shape as far as that,” Vacca said.
High water levels in the lake mean those on the water should exercise caution, said Vacca. With eight extra feet of water covering the entire lake, signs and rock jetties, plants and tree trunks are submerged, making them hazards that could result in personal injuries and property damage.
“If you are boating, you want to be aware of some of the safety concerns with high water, just like we were last year with low water,” Vacca said.
The lake project manager also said high lake water levels change the appearance of the shoreline, which means knowing exactly where one is on the water is more of a challenge.
“Anytime waters are flooding,” Vacca said, “you just always want to be extra careful.”