Ottawa The city's levee gates were reopened Thursday afternoon after keeping the downtown area dry during recent flooding.
U.S. Highway 59 was reopened here Thursday afternoon after the Main Street bridge over the Marais des Cygnes River passed an inspection by the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The bridge was closed over the weekend after floodwaters began flowing over, rather than under, it.
Special levee gates at either end of the bridge were closed to keep high water out of downtown Ottawa. Except for a few small leaks, the gates did the job, said Andy Haney, Ottawa public works director.
The weekend's rain caused the river to crest Monday at nearly 39 feet, three feet over the surface of the highway bridge.
By Thursday, the river was down to a more manageable 12 feet, Haney said.
City crews cleared debris from the bridge, and the special gates were pulled open by a backhoe at 1:30 p.m., as Dairy Queen employees cheered.
The gates, completed in 1962, "worked like a champ," Haney said.
"We had some minor problems -- I want to emphasize the word minor -- with a couple of leaks," Haney said. "It certainly didn't present a problem for us. It was just a couple trickles of water."
Haney said videotapes of the leaks would be shown to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to see if anything can be done to remedy the problem.
Haney said city employees worked overtime to deal with the high water, but he hadn't estimated the cost. There was little, if any, permanent damage caused to city property by the flood.
"We've just got a lot of cleanup in the area that is going to have to start happening," he said. "The water was high and fast and over a wide area."
High water caused some problems for several homes in the city.
"There are parts of town that are not levee protected," Haney said. "The backwaters of the river got up into those areas."
Lawrence fared better than Ottawa in general, though the Kansas River did eclipse flood stage, which is 18 feet. By Thursday, the river level was below 15 feet.
-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
- Flood recovery efforts continue in Southeast Kansas. Page 8B.