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Crews assess flood damage in central Kan. town

Published on -7/30/2013, 4:03 PM

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LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) -- Emergency management workers in the central Kansas community of Lindsborg were going door to door on Tuesday to assess damage from flash flooding that forced the evacuation of several homes, while other parts of Kansas were cleaning up from the mess left behind by the downpour the day earlier.

The water had mostly receded by morning and residents were allowed to return to their homes, City Administrator Greg DuMars said.

Early estimates indicated that between 124 to 140 homes were flooded, mostly in an area that encompasses two subdivisions, DuMars said. Some areas were under as much as five feet of water at one point.

"This area of town has never flooded like this before," he said. "We had water coming in from directions that had never been anticipated."

Emergency crews used boats to evacuate about 35 or 40 people from their homes on Monday, said McPherson County emergency management director Dillard Webster. One injury was reported.

The Red Cross set up a shelter in Lindsborg, but no one used it because displaced residents stayed with family or friends, DuMars said.

Between 4 and 5 inches of rain fell in about an hour Monday, overwhelming a retention pond, city officials said.

Some buildings at Bethany College in Lindsborg also got water in their basements, but nothing substantial, said school spokeswoman Stephanie McDowell. Crews were working to clean up and dry out the carpeting and floors. The flooding did not interrupt the college's normal operation.

Five buildings flooded at Bethel College in North Newton, with the most significant damage at the basketball gymnasium where the floor was ruined, spokeswoman Lori Livengood said.

A large group of people worked until 2 a.m. Tuesday trying to get water out of the buildings at Bethel College using fans, buckets and mops, she said. Sandbags used at one of the residence halls were successful in keeping water out.

Heavy rain also caused problems across southeast Kansas, where many roads were covered. The National Weather Service says the water was receding in much of the area early Tuesday but urged drivers to remain cautious.

The Harvey County Sheriff's Office took to Facebook to urge morning motorists to stay home, posting that they had already multiple water rescues throughout the county.

"When beginning your commute, ask yourself, 'Is it worth it?' If it isn't, please stay home and off the roads! If you feel like attempting it and see water on the roads, turn around and don't drown! It only takes 6 inches of water to wash your vehicle off the road!"

The threat from flash flooding is over, with Kansas now transitioning into river flooding as the runoff swell tributaries that flow into the larger rivers, said NWS meteorologist Robb Lawson. Of particular concern now is the Cottonwood River west of Emporia.

"If there was any kind of silver lining to this thing, it is that we got some much needed rainfall and Wichita did miss out on the extreme rain -- the 5 to 6 inch rainfall. ... Wichita is pretty flat, there is not a lot of places for water to go and so we were thankful that Wichita missed out on the extreme rainfall that would have likely caused flash flooding," Lawson said.

The forecast calls for a break from the rain for a day or so, but rain chances increase beginning Thursday through the weekend, he said.

"We could be looking at additional water issues through the weekend," he said.

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