Ottawa Police Department officials issued a warning Thursday to the public to stay away from flooded areas.
Adam Weingartner, Ottawa Police Chief, said residents need to heed all the warnings for their safety.
“We are asking area residents to please: No. 1, don’t drive in that area; No. 2, don’t walk in that area and do not enter the water,” Weingartner said. “While some areas are without power, there is one business that still has power. The concern is there could be an electrical current or short that could electify that water. You would not know it until you walked in. It is very critical that everyone stay out of standing water in the area.”
The Main Street bridge flood gates at the Marais des Cygnes River were closed at 3 p.m. Thursday. The river was expected to crest Thursday afternoon at 33.79 feet. Flood stage is 31 feet. The river had fallen to just under 26 feet as of 10:30 a.m. Friday.
Weingartner said the Emergency Operations Center was activated at 6:30 a.m. Thursday to relay response efforts for the flash flooding situation that occurred overnight.
The City of Ottawa water plant reported there were 8.45 inches of rain that fell by 7 a.m. Thursday and additional almost an half-inch as of 7 a.m. Friday.
“It was causing localized flooding in areas that are prone to it,” Weingartner said. “During that time, the Ottawa Fire Department and many of the Franklin County volunteer fire services conducted water rescues outside of Ottawa and a few inside the city of Ottawa.”
He said there were at least five water rescues conducted as of Thursday afternoon.
“We had three vehicles early on that drove around barricades that got trapped in water,” Weingartner said. “We have people walking in the water still.”
The main area of concern is K-68 and Main. Weingartner said businesses surrounding that intersection have been impacted and closed. A few of them reopened on Friday.
“We have closed K-68 from Eisenhower to Oak St. and Main St. to First St. until about Logan St.,” Weingartner said. “Our basement at the police department is flooding. Employees have been down there trying to push water out of it. They are barely able to keep up with the water that is coming up. The access the Franklin County Sheriff Office, Franklin County Attorney’s office and Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center is closed off due to high water. Orlis Cox and the Second Street Dam is closed off.”
Weingartner said the amount of water that was received is exceeding the ability of the pumps to pump the water out of that area.
Ottawa City Manager, Richard Nienstedt said the amount of rain that fell in that small time frame overwhelmed the system.
“There’s not a system that can handle that,” he said.
Nienstedt the pumps are working overtime and the city brought in nine extra pumps to help clear the water.
K-68 and Main will remain closed until the water is removed and the stop lights have been repaired, city officials said.
Kansas State Bank’s main branch, which is right in the middle of the flooded area on Main St., will be closed at least until Monday, Roger Maxwell, bank president, said.
Maxwell said the south branch, 1314 S. Main St., Ottawa, and the Baldwin City location, will be open for customers.
“Due to the abnormally high amount of rainfall which occurred during the early morning hours of Aug. 1, the Kansas State Bank sustained interior water damage and will be closed until further notice,” Maxwell said in a statement. “Our other two locations at 1314 South Main, in Ottawa, and 602 Ames St., in Baldwin City, will remain open for normal banking hours to serve all of our customer’s needs. All customer information remains secure. We have invested in technology that enables us to carry out all aspects of our services without interruption. We appreciate the support from our customer’s and from the community during this time.”
“Customers may also transact business using the banks online services, telephone banking services, or our Mobile applications.”
For more information, visit the bank’s website at www.MyKansasStateBank.com or call 785-242-3600 or 785-594-7500.
— Leon Toon, Ottawa Herald general manager, contributed to this story.