Archive for Monday, May 7, 2007

County keeping eye on high water

May 7, 2007

Overnight flooding Sunday in Leavenworth County meant a short night for the county's Emergency Management director.

Chuck Magaha went said he went to bed about 1:30 a.m. Monday, only to get up and get back to work by 4 a.m. Within three hours, he and county officials had closed several roads because of high water along the flooded Stranger Creek, which bisects Leavenworth County from north to south.

Before noon, Magaha's bosses - the Leavenworth County Commission - had issued a state of emergency declaration for the county.

But Magaha said late Monday afternoon he hoped the worst was in the past.

"I think we're headed down the right track now," he said.

The day brought continued flooding in the town of Easton in the northwest portion of the county. Magaha said the county's water rescue service rescued one family from its home there. Some residents in Easton, which was hard hit by flooding in 2005 when Stranger Creek spilled over its banks, had voluntarily evacuated their homes.

The only other water rescue of the day in the county occurred Monday morning, when a mother and her daughter drove through standing water on Kansas Highway 92.

"The car got up on a bridge that was engulfed by water," Magaha said.

A Kansas Department of Transportation worker was able to drive his road grader to the spot and get the mother and daughter to safe ground Magaha said.

County officials reminded drivers not to negotiate roads with water running over them.

"It's like they say, 'If you can't see the ground, turn around,'" Magaha said.

Early Monday, the following roads had been closed: Leavenworth County Roads 8, 10, 14, 15, 16, 21, 23 and 28; Lecompton Road; Donahoo Road; 187th Street and Leavenworth Road; and Roe Road just north of Easton.

County Road 5 - the Tonganoxie Road, which leads from Leavenworth to Tonganoxie - had been closed as of 5 p.m.

Magaha briefed county agencies on what the department was anticipating countywide. He said his two main concerns were the water levels of the Missouri River and Stranger Creek.

"Every tributary that goes into the Missouri River or into Stranger Creek is causing a problem somewhere down the line in Leavenworth County," Magaha said.

The town of Easton has been particularly struck with flooding. Magaha said the only open route into the city is from the west via Jefferson County.

Easton Mayor Sherry Adams Dodson reported at least one house in the town was full of water. She appeared at the courthouse in mud-stained clothing after a long night of aiding residents.

Magaha warned of high waters along rural roads and County Road 5, northeast of the Tonganoxie.

A dike on Stranger Creek east of Tonganoxie failed Monday afternoon and flooded about a 200-acre field, Magaha said.

Two creeks that run through Lansing are high, but Magaha said he didn't think rainwater would be as much of an issue there. He did express concern about possible leakage into the Lansing Correctional Facility, though.

In Basehor, Magaha said Wolf Creek and the Falcon Lakes pond "need to be watched real close."

The National Weather Service said it expected the Missouri River at Leavenworth to crest Monday night at 27 feet, 8 inches; by Wednesday morning, it is expected to crest at 30 feet, 9 inches.

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 a height over 35 feet.

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

Nevertheless, the department has prepared itself for any disaster relief efforts necessary, including possible sandbagging, contacting the Red Cross and the Salvation Army and coordinating actions with appropriate the agencies in the county and state.

In Leavenworth, the city's Landing Park has been closed and city crews were filling sandbags for use in areas close to the city's Riverfront Community Center.


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