Archive for Thursday, July 29, 1993


July 29, 1993


As sun continues to shine on a receding Kansas River, city officials this morning tried to brace the public for a different kind of flood.

The effects of drenching rains and record-level river waters will leave city roads, sewers and other facilities with unprecedented challenges, assistant city manager Rod Bremby said this morning.

While dangers of widespread flooding never materialized in Lawrence and surrounding areas of the county, Bremby said, long-term effects such as numerous potholes remain.

The giant hole at North Second and Locust streets has been open for nearly two months. Water still closes North Second Street south of the Kansas Turnpike.

Bremby's not even sure if the asphalt paths and shelter in Burcham Park still exist.

"We're not trying to cry wolf or anything, but we don't want to surprise people with the amounts of damage we will be assessing," Bremby said.

Officials have gathered videotapes of water filling the underpass on North Second Street, among other reports of damage from the Flood of '93. Bremby said the city wanted to be sure not to miss out on its fair share of federal assistance.

"There does not appear, at this time, to be adequate funding to go around," Bremby said.

This past winter was unreasonable in terms of snow removal and freeze-and-thaw damage to city roads, he said. This summer's storms and flooding only added to the problems.

"What we have before us is a pretty massive cleanup," City Commissioner Bob Moody said. "We're going to be very busy with the flood for many months to come."

The Kansas River's level was 23.3 feet at 7 this morning in Lecompton, down .75 feet from Wednesday morning's reading. This river is expected to fall to 21 feet Saturday.

Moody said he wanted to thank Lawrence residents for their patience and understanding, and city and county workers for their diligence during the Flood of '93.

While other communities face division over flood-related problems -- Shawnee County's sheriff debating emergency-preparedness officials about the strength of levees, for example -- Douglas County's efforts have held firm, he said.

"We're happy to say that here in Lawrence, we've passed the test," Moody said. "We've worked through this situation."

A health advisory remains in effect for residents along East 11th Street, east of Haskell Avenue, where river water covers private wells and city water lines of 11 homes.

Residents in the area have been asked to boil tap water for five minutes before using it for drinking or cooking.

Residents can get free tap water, using their own containers, at the Kaw Water Treatment Plant, 720 W. Third, and Clinton Water Treatment Plant, 1801 Wakarusa.

North Michigan Street was reopened in the Wood Creek Townhomes, 255 N. Mich., Bremby said. Other roads, however, remained closed:

-- North Second Street, between Riverfront Road and Industrial Lane.

-- North Third Street, north of Maiden Lane.

-- North Street, between North Second and North Fourth streets.

-- Indiana Street, north of Third Street at Burcham Park.

-- East 11th and East 15th streets, east of the city limits.

-- East Eighth Street, west of the LRM sand plant.

In other flood-related news:

-- Representatives of federal, state and local disaster-relief agencies will meet at 9 a.m. Friday in the city commission meeting room at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts, to bring themselves and members of the public up to date about what programs are available. The public is invited.

-- Officials identified an unknown substance floating atop the river Wednesday morning as diesel fuel, Bremby said. The fuel spilled from a dislodged tank at Penny's Concrete Inc., which is east of the city, Bremby said. The fuel ended up near the city's wastewater treatment plant, 1400 E. Eighth. The "minor" spill posed no threat to the plant nor the environment, he said.

-- On Friday, city sanitation crews will pick up storm-damaged items from homes and businesses across Lawrence. Call the sanitation department, 841-1911, to get placed on the pickup list, Bremby said.

-- An engineering report is expected early next week on the giant hole at North Second and Locust streets, Bremby said. The report will address options for repairing the nearly 2-month-old hole, even the possibility of filling it in and starting over, he said.

-- Flooded railroads have disrupted shipments of coal to the KPL power plant northwest of Lawrence since Monday, when floodwaters inundated enough Santa Fe track to block rail traffic between Kansas City and Tecumseh. Tom Sloan, director of corporate communications for KPL, said the disruption will not affect the plant's operations. "We've got a mountain of coal there that we stockpile," he said. "We've got more than a 30-day supply."

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