The flood gates are closed at the Main Street bridge in Ottawa. City of Ottawa officials said detour signs are posted to direct people around the river. The only way to get to north side is by going over the K-68 bridge.
The Marais des Cygnes River is rolling and continues to rise in Ottawa. The water level as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Main Street Bridge was 32.8 feet. The National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service expects the river to crest at 7 p.m. Tuesday at 33.3 feet. Flood stage is 31.0 feet.
City of Ottawa public works employees have split into two shifts and will monitor the river levels until it falls well below flood stage.
The Ottawa water plant recorded just less than three inches of rain from 7 a.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday with more rain expected to hit Ottawa throughout the day Tuesday.
Areas of Forest Park, which is adjacent to the river, is under water as of Tuesday afternoon. High water may cause county roads to close throughtout Tuesday evening as small streams begin to crawl out of their banks.
This is the third straight week the Marais des Cygnes River has been at flood stage or over in Ottawa. The river crested at 29 feet last week and at nearly 34 feet a couple of weeks ago.
Many areas of the state have been hit hard by flood damage in the past few weeks. Seven more counties have been added to the state disaster declaration signed by Gov. Laura Kelly on May 9. Counties added are Anderson, Crawford, Doniphan, Elk, Lincoln, Riley and Saline.
Counties currently included in the declaration are: Barber, Barton, Butler, Chase, Cherokee, Clark, Cloud, Cowley, Dickinson, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Kingman, Lyon, Marion, McPherson, Meade, Morris, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Sumner, Wabaunsee, and Wilson.
The state declaration may be further amended to include any additional counties that experience flooding. The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties that meet certain criteria.
Angee Morgan, deputy director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, stressed the importance of not underestimating the force and power of water.
“It only takes about a foot of water to float a car,” Morgan said. “Two feet of rushing water can carry away most SUVs and pick-up trucks. Flood waters move swiftly and can quite easily knock you off your feet and sweep you away. So, please, heed all warning signs and safety barriers. Don’t try to wade or drive through flooded areas. Turn around, don’t drown.
“I also want to urge people to avoid playing in or around a flooded stream,” she said. “There may be dangerous floating debris, hidden underwater obstacles, and treacherous currents. Don’t try to launch a boat or swim in the water. Even fishing or walking along the bank can be dangerous because the bank may be slippery or easily collapse. Flood waters demand our utmost respect.”
Flood waters also pose various health risks, including infectious diseases, chemical hazards and injuries. Eating or drinking anything that has come in contact with flood waters could cause disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Open wounds and rashes exposed to flood water can become infected as well. Keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing with soap and clean water, cover open wounds with a waterproof bandage and avoid exposure to flood waters if you have an open wound or rash. Flood waters may have moved hazardous chemical containers from their normal storage places and can contain glass or metal fragments that can cause injury and lead to infection. Do not allow children to play in flood waters or with toys contaminated with flood waters.
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management’s State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka will remain activated with 24-hour staffing to support county request for assistance with severe weather and flooding.