Wichita crews clean up mess from flooded riverbanks

WICHITA, Kan. With the Wichita River Festival two weeks away, flooded riverbanks looked like they could pose a problem for the event.

Thanks to last week's rains, it appeared this year's annual nine-day party in Wichita would have more "river" in it than anticipated. This came with somewhat of a mess, including sidewalks covered in mud.

The city got to work on a cleanup effort that now has Riverfest preparations back on track. It's a big improvement from Mother's Day (May 12) when people couldn't walk on the sidewalks.

Jan Najera and her son, Peter, say they walk along Wichita's Riverwalk almost daily.

"It's peaceful, it's clean and we get our exercise," Jan says.

But high river levels last week swallowed much of the Riverwalk, leaving behind logs, branches and grime when it receded. The conditions were not ideal for Riverfest, says Warren McCoskey with Wichita Park and Recreation.

"It's taken us pretty much all week to get the bike path where it's usable and safe for our users and also is prepared for the Riverfest," McCoskey says.

He says it took almost an entire week for crews to clean up what the Arkansas River left behind. Scrubbing, spraying and hauling away debris. Now, McCoskey says, things are looking good for a successful Riverfest, providing Mother Nature cooperates.

"It's kind of a never-ending task. You get it done and you never know when the next flood is going to happen," McCoskey says.