Flooding Fears Loom In Leavenworth

By: Ryan Smith Email
By: Ryan Smith Email

Leavenworth, KAN. (WIBW)—Flooding fears are looming in Leavenworth. Rising rivers already forced evacuation of their animal control location and a city park is shut down. It stands at 23 feet but emergency management officials predict it could crest at 33 feet within weeks.
"We’re hoping it doesn't get that bad,” said resident Chuck Thomas.

Thomas sees many similarities with the devastating flood of '93, which peeked at 35 feet.

The Union Pacific train runs through town 35 times a day. Water peeking at 33 feet would put a stop to that. In fact, Union Pacific has already moved most equipment to a temporary space a mile north of town. It would also flood riverfront properties and a Leavenworth landmark. Specialty sandbags now sit along the backside of the Riverfront Community Center. If the river should reach 33 feet, the historic gathering place will be protected.

“We’ve been through this before, so we are prepared every spring and summer,” said Thomas.

Preparing contingency plans are second-nature for Leavenworth residents. They’ve seen four of their top five river crests in the past four years.
“Yes, I’m frustrated,” said Kan. Gov. Sam Brownback.

Brownback wants to initiate a 9/11-style commission following this flood season to consider changes in how the army corps of engineers manages the reservoir system.

"It’s time we talk about the impact of flooding on the Missouri River system,” said Brownback.

Thomas just hopes Mother Nature won't stop his town or the train in its tracks this summer.

"Hope it doesn’t get into our businesses... that would be the worst thing."

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