As Mosby, Missouri, Police Sgt. Jason Lininger helped residents evacuate their Clay County homes Sunday morning, he asked Fishing River Fire how fast the water was rising.
"At one point, it actually rose four foot in one hour," Lininger told Gov. Jay Nixon during a briefing Monday afternoon.
Severe weather this weekend spawned 10 confirmed in Bates, Henry, Caldwell, Jackson, Ray, Newton, Lawrence and Polk counties. An unconfirmed tornado near Bethany leveled several grain elevators.
But the real problem was flash flooding.
"Yeah, because when I got the initial briefing on the upside, we just assumed the gauge was broken because it was going up too fast to handle it," replied Nixon, in town to survey the damage.
The governor walked with Lininger down a mud-slicked road to a bridge over Fishing River, usually about eight feet deep.
It crested around 9 a.m. Sunday at more than 30 feet.
"That's 22 vertical feet of water," Nixon said, stunned.
"In just a few hours," Lininger confirmed.
At least 35 and possibly up to 75 homes were damaged – but no one was hurt.
Nixon credited Lininger and other first responders for their quick thinking.
"Dramatic flash floods are very dangerous, and the local folks here making the decision to evacuate was something that saved a lot of people heartache and possibly injuries," Nixon said.
Nixon wasn't sure when damage assessments would be complete.
"Everybody's always in a race to that, but especially when you have road damage as well as the tornadoes that came down in some rural areas, we're checking power lines, too," Nixon said. "You head down there, Clinton, Missouri, some pretty significant damage to the power infrastructure."
Nixon said it was too early to tell if Sunday's storm will reach the $8 million threshold needed for federal disaster assistance because so many of the tornadoes touched down in remote, rural areas.
But he added it's possible Missouri could use disaster mitigation funds to buy out some flood-prone homes in the future.
"This is a community that's well-aware the river is right here," Nixon said.