Archive for Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kansas braces for flooding along Missouri River

June 5, 2011

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— Kansas emergency management officials are preparing for “a long and difficult” summer amid predictions of record flooding along the Missouri River.

Releases from U.S. Army Corps of Engineer lakes further north on the Missouri River could send huge volumes of water into communities and farmlands in Kansas, including parts of Fort Leavenworth, said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, state adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.

“It’s going to be a long and difficult summer,” Tafanelli said Friday, adding that predictions were for flooding to rival levels last seen in 1993.

Tafanelli said residents in the northeast Kansas towns of Elwood and Wathena were preparing to evacuate residents who might be in the water’s way. The river is expected to crest between 27 and 33 feet, with the flood stage between 18 feet and 22 feet, depending on the location.

The concern, he said, is that the water will not return to normal levels for several months, especially if predictions for a wet summer come true. More rain in Kansas or further upstream on the Missouri could compound the problems.

State officials have met with Doniphan County officials, including city leaders in Elwood and Wathena, to begin plans for evacuating residents who could be forced out of their homes by the flood. Tafanelli said some residents were preparing to move to higher ground days ahead of the water.

A levee that protects the area appears to be in good shape, he said, and will hold back the water from swallowing the towns.

Further downstream, an Army airfield at Fort Leavenworth might not be so lucky.

Sherman Army Airfield is shared by the military and the city of Leavenworth. Spokeswoman Rebecca Steed said Friday that the field would be flooded if the river rises to 27 feet.

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