Storm elevates flood concern near Cow Creek

RICE COUNTY, Kan. Through Tuesday night, much of Kansas remains in a flood watch as part of a bigger storm impacting a larger region of the Midwest.

In Kansas, some areas hit hard by flooding last fall brace for the threat of more as rain falls on ground heavily saturated from winter snows.

One area in a flood warning where residents are especially concerned is near Cow Creek in Rice and Reno counties. The reason for the "warning" status and added concern from people living near the creek is because of how saturated the ground already is.

With more raining expected late Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, residents expect the creek to rise.

With so much saturation in the soil, it didn't take much rain for Randy Bryant's yard to more closely resemble a pond Tuesday night, Bryant, who lives near Cow Creek, says when it rains hard, the water almost comes up to his house

Rice County residents near Cow Creek say they've watched the creek's waters rise over the past few weeks.

"I have thought for some time, I bet the water table is high because of all the snow moisture we've had all winter, and (Tuesday's rain) kind of proves it," Bryant says. "So, with the melting of this last snow, the creeks were all coming up."

By Wednesday morning, the area could see another inch of rain. The director of Rice County Emergency Management Tuesday said crews closed off six roads and encourage people in the area to stay off dirt roads, if possible. Crews Tuesday night are out patrolling areas especially prone to flooding, keeping a close eye on ditches.

Since the last flood from Cow Creek about five months ago, Jacob Gillespie can barely access his driveway, as this winter's precipitation hasn't given it enough of a chance to stay dry.

"The freeze and unfreezing snow and rain consistently for six months... Nothing dries up. I pretty much have a driveway that's just ruined," he says. "I can't get to my shop anymore, nothing. I'm going to have to get rock brought in and redo everything."

Gillespie says fixing his driveway will cost more than $2,000, but that's the least of his worries. The October flooding caused damage to several area homes and Gillespie says he had to rescue one of his neighbors. He wonders if he'll have to do it again.

Gillespie says he's also concerned for neighboring farmers who might not get a chance to harvest this year if the ground doesn't get a chance to dry out.