Archive for Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Late-night decision made to evacuate

October 5, 2005

At 2 a.m. Sunday, Easton was dry.

Chuck Magaha, Leavenworth County's director of emergency management, said the gauge at Easton's Stranger Creek bridge showed the water was 7 feet below flood stage.

"I drove through Easton and everything was dry," Magaha said Tuesday. "I got to Tonganoxie on my way home and the sheriff's office called to give me a report that Easton was flooding. That was at a quarter 'till 3."

He headed back north toward Easton.

"It was raining so hard I couldn't see the road," Magaha said.

In some areas there already was flooding.

"I was pushing water with my bumper, it was probably 20 inches high," Magaha said.

His goal was to get to the Easton nursing home as quickly as he could. And once there, the decision was made to evacuate the residents.

"Time was of the essence -- before the county road up north went under water," Magaha said.

He requested two EMS units to transport six bedridden residents. The Leavenworth County Council on Aging sent four vans to move the rest of the residents.

From 4 a.m. until about 6:30 a.m., nursing home staff and emergency workers moved 46 patients out of the Country Care nursing home and five residents out of the Country Cottage assisted living units, Magaha said. The residents were taken to the Broadway Heights nursing home in Leavenworth to stay until they could be transferred to other area care providers, Magaha said.

Because of flooding, getting around in Leavenworth was no easier than in the county.

"We had to detour around many routes to get the buses to Broadway Heights," Magaha said.

While this was going on, other rescues were taking place as well. The county water rescue team was activated, Magaha said, noting the team made at least eight rescues.

Numerous rescues were made in Leavenworth, as well, Magaha said.

As of Tuesday morning, Magaha said he didn't yet have an estimate on the damaged caused by the flooding. He said reports were still coming in.

"We're looking at about 40 to 45 homes that have been affected by floodwaters and about 20 businesses in Easton and Leavenworth and throughout the county," Magaha said.

And with the waters still high, vehicles -- and their occupants -- that may have been washed away in floodwaters remain a concern.

"We had two reports of cars being washed off the roadway," Magaha said. "Those have not yet been verified."

One of those reports came early Monday morning when a rural resident reported seeing a car's taillights as it drove into water on Evans Road near the Stranger Creek bridge. The resident reported that the car was not seen coming out of the water.

A similar report came in on Potter Road north of Easton.

Searches for these vehicles have been conducted by the county rescue workers and law enforcement officers, as well as by the Kansas Highway Patrol's helicopter.

"But nothing has been found of either of the two vehicles," Magaha said Tuesday morning. "So we don't know if they got out."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.