Archive for Wednesday, May 9, 2007

County keeps eye on flooding

May 9, 2007

Leavenworth County resident Frank Wooton knows what flooding is like on Stranger Creek.

"I think I've seen it this bad once or twice but never worse," said Wooton as he was looking down at Mitchell Road, which was completely immersed Monday afternoon.

Wooton lives near Easton, a town that was struck particularly hard with flooding after a weekend of drenching rains.

County Emergency Management Director Chuck Magaha reported at least one water rescue in the city. Others evacuated their homes voluntarily.

Easton residents had trouble leaving the city though, as Kansas Highways 92 and 192 and Millwood Road (County Road 14) were all inaccessible.

A mother and her daughter who drove through standing water on K-92 Monday morning had to be rescued by a Kansas Department of Transportation worker who was able to drive his road grader to the spot, Magaha said.

Mike McFarland, an Easton resident who said he usually drives 10 miles to work in Leavenworth, had to travel all the way through Tonganoxie on County Road 5 to retrieve his pickup truck at his home.

"When I pulled in yesterday afternoon (the house) was fine," McFarland said Monday. "Later last night, I had to go through the woods behind my house to get down ... (and) was finally able to walk the driveway in about waist-deep water."

Two bridges on County Road 5 northeast of Tonganoxie barely remained dry above Stranger Creek.

Albert Joe and Celesta Doege's barns just south of the bridges were washed out Monday. The couple's sheep that had grazed in a dry pasture two days before fled to higher ground.

Asked if she'd ever seen flooding at that level, Celesta Doege said, "Oh definitely. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if they blocked the road here if it comes up much more."

Indeed, County Road 5 was closed at 5 p.m. Monday due to concerns about the safety of the northernmost bridge there. It had reopened to traffic Tuesday.

Other roads that remained closed Tuesday included County Roads 8, 10, 14 and 16, K-92, 4-H Road, 190th Street, 198th Street, and other gathering roads at Stranger Creek.

County Road 21 leading to Easton was accessible but was down to one lane.

Magaha said that other than Stranger Creek, the Missouri River was the county's main concern.

According to updated forecasts by the National Weather Service, the river was scheduled to crest between 26 and 27 feet at 9 a.m. today.

Flood stage for the river is 20 feet.

In the flood of 1993, when levees on the Missouri River burst and thousands of acres of land lay underwater for days, the river reached crested at more than 35 feet.

"Everything is promising so far, because, one, the rain's supposed to let up, and, two, the crest isn't going to get as high as what they originally forecasted," Magaha said.

As a precautionary measure, though, work crews Tuesday erected steel pile-ons behind Leavenworth's Riverfront Community Center at Cherokee and Esplanade while sandbagging crews with the Leavenworth Refuse & Landfill Division and minimum security workers from Lansing Correctional Facility filled and laid sandbags.

The Red Cross and the Salvation Army were contacted, as well as all appropriate local agencies.

"Everybody's working as a team," Magaha said. "I think we've done really well so far."

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