Miami Mayor Brent Brassfield has no trouble recalling the events of last July's devastating flood - they are indelible.
Conjuring the images in his mind is painful, he said this week.
One year ago today, Brassfield was functioning purely on adrenaline and bordering on mental exhaustion as water continued to rise from the banks of the Neosho River and Tar Creek, swallowing a large portion of the town he has always called home.
The City of Miami was holding three press conferences a day and the operations center was a frenzy of activity.
Then city manager Michael Spurgeon and emergency management director Gary Brooks , assisted by department heads and city staff, attempted to organize resources and harness a deluge of press interest.
“I am so proud of hour our city employees responded,” Brassfield said. “We were darn lucky that we had a city manager like we had.”
On July 3, Brassfield was more than 24 hours into what would be Miami's second-largest flood of record. A few hours later, he would take his first tour by boat through the flood-ravaged Eastgate community where some rooftops were peaking just above the surface of the water and the wake of the small boat was lapping at second-story windows.
“That is when it hit me,” Brassfield said. “That is when it hit Michael and me emotionally the hardest. Pictures just don't do it justice … it was tough.”
There are things that Brassfield said he will never forget - the cry of a house cat that found its way to the top of a tree and waited for rescue; the overwhelming feeling of helplessness that enveloped him as he watched childhood friends assess damages, and the faces of strong men who rested behind closed doors and wept.
“This community is known for coming together when we face adversity,” Brassfield said. “And, we did.”
This week, as water stands in Riverview Park and warnings of possible flooding have been issued, Brassfield said it may appear that not much has changed.
But, there has been progress.
Discussions continue with a potential source of funding for the match money to pay for a $4.8 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study.
That study would provide flooding solutions which Brassfield said will likely be a combination of things.
Conversations with state officials continue as the city has set two priorities with regard to flooding, according to Brassfield. The first being the protection of residential and business properties.
Raising the city's main thoroughfares out of the floodplain is the second priority.
“Then, we will start to address other things,” Brassfield said. “But, the important thing is that we never forget the flooding potential that we have here and that we do not let the frequency of the flooding draw us into an attitude of acceptance.”