Kansas governor issues disaster declaration for recent flooding

The Latest on heavy rain continuing across much of Kansas and the serious flooding concerns it's bringing:

Nicole Loeffler

Update Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018

Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a State of Disaster Emergency declaration for the state in response to the recent heavy rains that have caused localized flooding and flash floods in a number of counties.

"With such excessive rainfall, we realize that many may have need of recovery assistance. This declaration will help with that effort," said Colyer. "At the same time, I encourage Kansans to reach out to your neighbors and those in your community who may have had difficulty weathering the storm and see if there is any help you can offer as well."

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management says it has not yet received requests for assistance from any counties, but the declaration will expedite the state’s response, authorizing state resources and manpower to assist local governments with their response and recovery operations.

Counties will be added to the declaration as requests for assistance are received.

Reno County and Hutchinson will hold a joint news conference at 3 p.m. to talk about flood activities over the next few days.

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Update Tuesday night, Oct. 9, 2018

Drier conditions return to Kansas for the middle of the week, finally giving flooded areas a chance to see water levels recede.

Light snow showers in northwest Kansas will be ending during the night and most areas that did get snow only saw a light dusting.

Friday brings another chance for rain in much of Kansas, but amounts will be light.

One area of concern from the past few days of rain is in Sumner County where water from the Ninescah River continues to flood onto roads.

The small communities of Peck and Ponderosa saw some of the worst of the Sumner County flooding.

In Butler County, most of the flooding was limited to rural areas, but the City of Augusta is taking precautions to keep its main streets from flooding.

Tuesday afternoon, stop logs were put in place along the levy system in Augusta as the county and Augusta police closely monitor water levels in the Whitewater and Walnut rivers.

Flooding threats from rain-swollen creeks and rivers necessitated a disaster declaration for Reno County. The situation causing road closures and safety concerns isn't better to the south in western Sedgwick County nor to the east in Harvey County.

For the second consecutive day there is no school in Sedgwick Wednesday. Classes are expected to resume Wednesday after classes were canceled in the Renwick and Clearwater school districts.

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Update 5:15 p.m.

Sedgwick County southwest of Wichita is one of several areas in south central Kansas heavily impacted by flooding. In Viola, some homes are cut off by floodwater.

With the Ninescah River overflowing, Viola resident Jamie Conrady is stuck on an island Tuesday.

"We're waiting to find out if (first responders) are coming to get us," she says. If they are projecting the river to get much higher, they will probably come get us."

Although homes aren't caught off due to flooding, the situation in Clearwater isn't much better. Clearwater schools were closed Tuesday as were schools in the Renwick and Sedgwick school districts. In Sedgwick, the main road through town turned into a flowing stream.

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Update Tuesday 3:50 pm.:

A disaster declared in Reno County comes as several communities close roads with rain-swollen creeks and rivers beginning to overflow.

The flooding is also impacting train traffic. Friday, an Amtrak spokesman says through Wednesday morning, flooding will close the train's route between Hutchinson and Topeka.

In Harvey County, the City of Halstead is among several areas monitoring water levels. If floodgates need closed, the county says first responders in Newton, Hesston and Halstead "have plans in place to make sure every part of the county is covered for potential 911 calls."

Emergency crews are putting caution tape on vehicles stranded in water after they've been checked and reported, the county says.

The U.S. National Weather Service projects the Little Arkansas River near Halstead will break its record crest and will get close to its record near Sedgwick.

The City of Sedgwick says sandbags are available for residents working to minimize flooding on their properties. The city says the sandbags are available on the east side of the city shop at 4th and Washington.

In Butler County, a feel-good story comes with a river rescue. Several first responders organized a team effort to save a dog from rushing floodwater near Benton. Tuesday afternoon, Butler County Emergency Communications says the rescued dog reunited with its owner.

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Update Tuesday 3:10 p.m.:

The Reno County Board of Commissions Tuesday declared a disaster due to flooding in the county. "

Heavy rains have saturated the ground causing field run off and closing several roadways throughout the county," Reno County Emergency Management says. "While the field run off may recede soon, Cow Creek, the Little Arkansas River, Arkansas River and Ninnescah River will continue to rise, causing issues for Reno County residents into next week."

The county says Cow Creeks is forecast to crest at 12.4 feet Saturday (Oct.13).

"If the waters reach this level, based on historical data, there will be several roadways closed and multiple residences affected," Reno County Emergency Management says. "This is not a flash flood, we know it is coming. If you are staying in an area that may be prone to flooding, take some time, meet with your family and come up with a plan. Carefully evaluate if you should evacuate your residence or not. If you choose not to evacuate, the first responders will not risk their safety to come to you unless there is a life safety concern."

In Augusta, there are concerns with risen water levels in the Walnut and Whitewater rivers and Elm Creek. The Whitewater River is currently at about 20.87 feet. The Walnut River is at more than 24 feet.

"Once the Whitewater River reaches 21 (feet), the city will be making the decision regarding closure of the levee at Kelly Street," The City of Augusta says. "Once Kelly Street has been closed, we will begin monitoring Highland Driver closely and may close that levee with short notices. "Because we close a levee does not necessarily mean the city is going to flood. It means we are preparing for the potential that water will reach the levee opening."

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Update Tuesday 2:45 p.m.:

Flooding in Rice County caused led to an evacuation Tuesday of Central Plains Middle School. The Central Plains school district says middle school students were evacuated to Central Plains High School in Clafflin.

A preliminary local storm report from the National Weather Service in Wichita says the evacuation was necessary due to flooding in the parking lots and driveway.

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Update Tuesday 11:20 a.m.:

Flooding will continue to be a major concern Tuesday with more wet weather on the way through this evening. A few spots could see an additional 2 to 3 inches of rain before we start to dry-out Wednesday morning.

A stalled front will slowly start to push eastward late Tuesday but before it moves out of Kansas we'll see more areas of rain across central and eastern Kansas.

The rain will finally come to an end by this evening but not before northwest Kansas sees a few snowflakes fly early Wednesday morning. Measurable snow is not expected.

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Update Tuesday 8:45 a.m.:

There have been a handful of reports of traffic accidents in the Wichita area due to the floodwater.

One involved a school bus near 13th and 119th Street around 6:40 a.m. The bus apparently slid off the roadway into a flooded area. No one was hurt.

There was also a submersion call just outside the town of Sedgwick at around the same time. Everyone got out of that vehicle safely, as well.

Our news partners at KFDI report a semi jack-knifed under the 50 W. bridge on Southbound I-135 in Harvey County. That wreck could cause delays for folks coming to Wichita from the north.

Update Tuesday 6:15 a.m.:
A few school districts have called off class for today. They include Renwick, Sedgwick and Clearwater. You'll find a list of school delays right here: SCHOOL CLOSINGS AND DELAYS

Mark says flood concerns will remain for a good chunk of Kansas.

Remember: TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN! If you see a road that looks even partially flooded, don't risk it.

You'll find a list of rivers and flood stages here: Flood Stages from National Weather Service

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Update 10 p.m.:

With areas already flooded, the key question on many Kansans' minds is, "when will the rain finally end?" The definite answer is no later than Wednesday when the sun finally peaks through by early afternoon.

Some of the heaviest rain Monday night is east of Wichita, including in the Elk and Chautauqua areas. These are among several areas that could see two to three inches of rain before we catch a break.

Medicine Lodge, southwest of the Wichita area has seen some of the highest rain totals since the middle of last week with more than six inches recorded.

Taking a look to the southwest, the core of the storm is stirring more rain in northwest Texas and Oklahoma. This is the final round moving through Kansas late Monday night and continues through Tuesday.

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Update 9 p.m.:

Flooded roads in western Sedgwick County are causing the Renwick school district (Andale, Garden Plain Colwich and St. Marks) to close tomorrow (Tuesday.)

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A rainy start to the week continues at least through Tuesday. There's no serious threat of severe weather, but expected flooding does present a serious safety concern.

Storm Team 12 says flooding is responsible for more deaths than tornadoes and lightning. If you come across a water-covered road. don't brush off the cliche, "Turn around, don't drown."

Areas of most concern include a line just east of Dodge City through south central Kansas (just west of Wichita) and up the Kansas Turnpike. Including Monday afternoon, Storm Team 12 says much of Kansas can expect at least two more rounds of rain before skies clear.

By the time it's over, several counties from south central to north central Kansas could see seven-plus inches of rain. Higher populated areas that could see some of the most rain include Hays, Hutchinson, Pratt, McPherson, Salina, Eureka,Wellington, Belle Plaine, Winfield and Ark City.

Through Tuesday, most of western Kansas can expect an additional one to two inches of rain, on top of what's already fallen through the weekend and early Monday. The large band from about Dodge City to just west of Wichita can expect another two to four inches on top of what's already fallen. In far northwest Kansas, some light snow could fall Tuesday night.

In Wichita and surrounding areas Monday, heavy rainfall impacted commutes home from work. Another round of heavy rain for much of Kansas is expected late Monday night into Tuesday morning.

The weather's also had an impact on high school sports as several regional golf tournaments were canceled

The flooding concerns linger after the rain lets up. While we expect the sun to come out Wednesday and Thursday, there's still a concern for flooding at least through this week with rivers and streams running full.

As of Monday afternoon, several areas experienced flooding. This includes about five inches reported in Hays. Across the state, local first responders are warning people to take it slow and not to cross flooded roads.

Sedgwick County

With flooded roads impacting bus routes, the Renwick school district made the call to cancel school Tuesday. Renwick, in western Sedgwick County, includes schools in Andale, Colwich and Garden Plain.

Reno County

Several roads are closed in the Hutchinson area as rain continues through Monday night.

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Butler County

Andover is among several Butler County communities impacted by flooding. The Andover Police Department says drivers should especially use caution on South Andover Road and Douglas Avenue due to localized flooding.

Sumner County

The National Weatehr Service has issued a flood warning for the Ninnesah River near Belle Plaine. The Sumner County Sheriff's Office says river's flood stage is 23 feet and rain in the forecast could break this stage by more than a foot.

This means there could be flooding on K-55 east of the bridge and over Highway 81.

"The water on Highway 81 may be near 1.5 feet deep," a river flood warning in Sumner County says.

Cowley County

Due to "iminent flooding," the City of Ark City has closed Walnut Park and West Chestnut Park west of the levee. The county advises to avoid these areas.

The county also says river flooding is expected on the Arkansas River in Ark City and the Walnut River in Winfield and Ark City. A flood watch for Cowley County remains in effect until Wednesday morning.

Saline County

In Salina, the city is monitoring Mulberry Creek, which the National Weather Service says is expected to reach flood levels Tuesday. The City says it will begin closing the following roads at 8 a.m. Tuesday:

1. North 9th Street between Euclid Avenue and I-70

2. West State Street between Broadway Boulevard and K-140 (old US-40).

3. K-140 (old US-40) from Broadway to I-135.

4. West State Street and West North Street west of Old US-40.

5. West Cloud Street near Cherokee Street.

The city says it will also close Old US-40 on the northeast side of Salina around noon on Tuesday,

Pratt County

An area recovering from last month's flooding gets hit again. Pratt County Emergency Management says about county roads in the southeast part of the county are damaged. To help residents prevent further damage, the county is providing sandbags.

Ellis County

Ellis County is among several areas with a flood warning in effect at least until Tuesday afternoon (3:15 p.m.). The four to six inches of rain that's fallen since the weekend "has caused numerous roads across Ellis and Rush (counties) due to ongoing flooding."

Locations experiencing some of the worst flooding include Hays, Ellis, LaCrosse, Victoria, Otis, Bison and Rush Center.

Greenwood County

Several areas in the Madison/Hamilton and Eureka areas are closed due to overflowing water, Greenwood County Emergency Management reports. Emergency management reminds that it only takes about six inches of water on the road for a driver to lose control of their vehicle.