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State Of Emergency Declared In Missouri After Widespread Flooding

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Michelle Burris went for a drive through the rain last weekend. She was checking on her office in Southwest Missouri, and the drive gave her a good look at the region's floods.

MICHELLE BURRIS: It was pouring down raining. And we were trying to stay out of everybody's way. There was sheds floating in the water. Just south of here, about 30 miles, there's several businesses that are completely underwater - water everywhere. That's the only way I can explain it.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Burris watched firemen float across the water in an orange boat. They saved a man stranded with his dog.

MONTAGNE: Elsewhere, strong currents carried along children's toys and even someone's RV.

BURRIS: Huge, huge RV that was taken off and just flying through the water and everything. And when it hit the bridge, it broke apart. The pressure and the strength of water rushing through there and everything has just caused damage beyond what you would believe. I mean, it's unreal.

INSKEEP: It was even more unreal for Kenny Cole, who is a junior high school custodian. Over the weekend, he stayed up late to watch the weather. Finally, he fell asleep.

KENNY COLE: Got woke up two hours later to 2 feet of water on my stairs going up to my porch. And my porch sits up about 3 feet. So we grabbed all of our kids and grabbed our bags, put them in our vehicles, said hey, we've got to go. It's coming.

MONTAGNE: And with his wife and four kids, including 3-year-old twins in tow, they evacuated to their friend's house. The next day, the family got a distant glimpse of their home, at least the part that was still above water.

COLE: We went back. We could just pretty much see half of our windows and the roof of our house. I assumed for the worst and, you know, hope for the best. And I'm assuming there's nothing in the house. And we pretty much are just trying to survive 'til next month. So we're - to say the least, we're struggling, man.

INSKEEP: As if that wasn't enough, Cole reports his car was totaled in a crash. So the family is left with no home and no vehicle and nothing to do, Cole says, except roll with the punches. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.