Odessa moves forward in aftermath of storm

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
After an EF3 tornado tore through Oak Grove Monday evening, March 6, some residents of Odessa believe the storm followed a track directly toward their town. These photos were taken near 8th Street and Pleasant, east of the city's water tower and water treatment center on Thursday morning. Bob Stewart/The Concordian

On March 8, Odessa Mayor Adam Couch issued an emergency proclamation due to “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of the people and property” within the city. The city had just been broad-sided by the remnants of the EF3 tornado that hit Oak Grove just minutes before.

According to Odessa City Administrator Nici Wilson, following Monday’s storm city officials and employees got to work quickly to assess pressing needs and to begin prioritizing steps toward recovery.

“On Tuesday and Wednesday we worked hard to get basic services restored,” she said. “We had issued a boil order for our residents after the water treatment plant shut down. By Wednesday, the order was lifted and, with some temporary repairs, the plant was back up and operational. After that, our administrative team shifted our focus toward working with the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency to find resources to help our residents.”

She also praised city workers for the hard work they did to get the city back up and running and said the city is very thankful for mutual aide received from Independence Power and Light.

Wilson said the city has opened the Northwest Treatment Center as a brush drop-off site for those who had begun clearing vegetative debris. The annual city-wide cleanup day had been scheduled for March 18, and Wilson said that will prove to be good timing.

“Every year, the First Baptist Church here in town works with the city during our city-wide cleanup,” she said. “They sponsor ‘I Love Odessa Days’ where they work to get together volunteers to help people with their clean-up needs and with small building repairs such as deck repairs and so on. This year, that effort has expanded to include AmeriCorps, so we will have literally hundreds and hundreds of volunteers coming into town to assist.”

The church also organized a satellite registration facility with phone banks for both volunteers and victims, she said.

“Many people started working on the debris in their yards and that kind of thing over the weekend, but many are still waiting for their insurance adjusters before doing anything significant on their homes. Some have boarded up broken doors and windows to keep any further damage from occurring, but that’s about it,” Wilson said. “We had approximately 50 homes sustain some type of damage, and up to five homes that were completely destroyed.”

Wilson noted that the city has asked or the National Weather Service to re-evaluate its finding that the damage was caused by straight-line winds.

“The inspectors from NWS came through and looked around and made their report without really talking to any of us,” she said. “We’re really not sure where they looked. The main pockets of damage are hard to find if you are not sure what you’re looking for,” she said. “We’ve sent them some photos and other evidence and asked them to re-evaluate their finding.”

Odessa Mayor Adam Couch said he is proud of the community.

“I am proud of the way the community has come together to move forward and to help each other get through this difficult time,” Couch said. “And we also appreciate those from other communities who have stepped-up to assist in our efforts. I think things are going very well.”

The annual City Wide Clean-Up Day is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 18. The clean-up will include trash, junk, yard waste and electronics. Hazardous materials will not be accepted. This is a free service to Odessa residents, and dumpsters will be set up at the rodeo grounds.

In addition, the city is looking for volunteers to assist those who are unable to do this for themselves and to help clean up yards, streets and other public areas. If you know of an elderly person, a disabled person, or any others who might need assistance, or for more information, contact Sybille Wilson at (816) 230-5577, ext. 6.

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