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Jefferson City airport recovers from 2019 flood


Overflowed levees and flooding left the Jefferson City Memorial Airport temporarily out of service in 2019.

The levees were 30-feet high, but water rose three feet about it, spilled over the wall and caused damage, according to the Army Corps Engineers. Only recently has the Jefferson City levee been repaired and returned to the status of fully operational.

The clean-up of the airport took months following the flood. At one point, all progress was lost due to a second flood virtually erasing any progress made.

Water tankers were brought out to spray the runway. Crews operating snow plows pushed mud off the runway while others brushed mud and silt away with brooms.

"We had well over 500 man hours into the clean-up operation all together," Britt Smith, operation division director of Jefferson City Public Works, said. "Mainly it's getting the mud, silt and other things off the runway and getting that service clean. That took a lot of work and a lot of man hours just to get that clear."

Airplane hangars and the control tower were remodeled to be flood-proof and more structurally sound. Fortunately, there was enough warning of the flood waters coming, allowing employees of the airport to move valuable equipment out and preventing more damages than necessary from occurring.

Not everything was able to be saved.

"One of the big things were the runway lights," Smith said. "We had to retest everything before opening back up, but one of the biggest things that needed to be replaced and tested were the lights."

Army Corps of Engineers officials say there isn't anything that could have prevented the damage.

"It's not often the flood waters exceed that 30-foot elevation in our levees, but when it does, that's just what we need to do," Smith said. "We just need to clean and be aware of the potential of damages."

It's important as residents to be aware of heavy rains and the potential for flooding. These floods develop and happen quickly. At times, there isn't an ability for preparation to take place.

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Ethan Heinz


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