A persistently high Missouri River is taking its toll on nearby communities in central Missouri, as feeding rivers have nowhere to flow to when local rains fall.
The town of Dalton is up on a hill, but the Dalton United Methodist Church is a few miles from town, down in the bottomlands. Usually surrounded by crops, this June it has been surrounded by water.
“You can’t get there without a boat,” said Rev. Jim Robinson.
June 2 was the first Sunday Dalton had to close due to the flooding. The church has water in the basement, but they took items like appliances out of the basement before the water rose, and stored them at a local grain elevator on higher ground that is offering sanctuary. On the main floor they put the podium up on blocks. They hope that move wasn’t necessary, but it was in 1993, when water got up to the window sills and they had to replace the pews. Three rivers impact the area, the Grand, Chariton and Missouri.
“That’s a lot of water coming together when they all get up,” Robinson said.
Robinson’s other church, Keyetesville UMC, isn’t in danger of flood water, but having the roads closed east, west and south of town have made in and out of the community difficult.
On June 2 there were 20 people in worship at Keyetsville, with two of them from Dalton.
Nearby in Brunswick, Rev. Janet Schnepf wasn’t able to get to the church on June 2. She lives in Marshall, and has been serving the church in Brunswick for 14 years.
“Two weeks ago I had to drive up and around to get there, which made my drive about twice as far,” she said. “Last week I wasn’t even able to do that.”
To get to Brunswick she would have had to make a large loop through Columbia, driving about four hours. This is the first time in 14 years she has been this cut off from the church. The Brunswick congregation instead met with two other churches in town and had a community service. Much of Brunswick, including the United Methodist Church, is on high ground, but people who live in the lower areas have had their homes flooded as levees fail.
“It’s a sad situation,” Schnepf said.