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Drenching rains cause widespread flooding, damage

Drenching rains cause widespread flooding, damage

Staff writer

It’s too soon to know whether Marion County, one of 20 counties included in a state emergency disaster declaration because of severe storms and flooding, will qualify for a federal disaster declaration.

A federal disaster declaration would provide partial funding to rebuild roads, bridges, and infrastructure.

Emergency manager Randy Frank said the county’s requirement, which is based on population, would be $67,000 in flood damage. Frank told county commissioners at Monday’s meeting that he has not had time to assess all damage in the county, but he did show videos of river and creek flooding in portions of the county, pointing out water over bridges and homes near the flooding.

During the height of last week’s flooding, 24 county roads and two federal highways had to be closed.

“As for bridge structures, I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Frank said as the videos played. “This log jam sitting here goes all the way to the bottom.”

One bridge has visible damage to the top.

Commission chairman Kent Becker said with some bridges, the structure of the bridge is OK but the road bed is damaged.

Commissioners made a verbal disaster declaration during flooding and on Monday signed a written disaster declaration. The written declaration is limited to seven days and will be reviewed in a week.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management last week authorized the use of state resources and personnel to help with response and recovery operations.

The majority of flooding was in south central and southeast Kansas, KDEM said.

In the county, Kansas Department of Transportation helped close US-56 between K-256 and 190th Rd., and US-50 between the US-77/US-50 roundabout and east of Florence last week during the height of the flooding.

“We haven’t requested any additional resources at this point,” Frank said.

Fire departments and sheriff’s deputies had to rescue some people from stranded vehicles after they drove into water during flooding.

“Water is one of the strongest nature forces there is,” Frank said. “Water can move a vehicle off a road very quickly. For the safety of the driver and the safety of the rescuers, don’t enter the water.”

Frank said that’s not the only caution to use.

“We’re in the cleanup phase now,” he said. “There are still dangers out there, with the water and even the mud.”

Sheriff Rob Craft said four vehicles stranded in high water last week.

“One of those did require rescuing by Hillsboro and Peabody fire departments,” Craft said.

Craft said the worst of the flooding was in the Peabody area, but businesses in downtown Durham had flooding.

Parts of Florence outside the flood control dike took on water, he said.

Flooded roads didn’t cause a lot of trouble for the sheriff’s office when responding to emergencies, but deputies sometimes had to take alternative routes along higher ground, Craft said. Although squad cars are equipped with four-wheel drive, deputies try to avoid having to use it.

Craft offered advice for drivers during and after heavy rain.

“Do not drive into any flooded areas,” he said. “Do not drive through standing water. It may look shallow, but there may not be a roadway there.”

Last modified May 16, 2019

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