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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Despite flooding no injuries reported in Bourbon County

Monday, July 2, 2007

Three local girls play in the floodwaters on Wall Street in Fort Scott underneath the U.S. 69 overpass. They are, from left, Kaleigh Armstrong, Shelby Blackburn and Abby Williams. This view is of Wall Street (U.S. Highway 54) east, toward the Missouri state line. Law enforcement authorities discourage playing in dangerous floodwaters. Tribune photo at right/Michael Glover
Roads became rivers and land turned into lakes as flood water engulfed Fort Scott and rural Bourbon County over the weekend.

The flooding forced residents out of their homes and businesses. Motorists had to find alternate routes as water blanketed across numerous county and city roads.

One of the biggest areas of flooding occurred west of the U.S. Highway 54 and U.S. Highway 69 junction. Late Saturday, U.S. 54 west of the junction became submerged, preventing drivers from going west out of Fort Scott or east coming into town. Exit ramps on both sides of U.S. 69 at 54 were closed because of the high water.

As of Monday morning, all highways in Bourbon County have reopened except for Kansas Highway 31 and 165th Street west of Fulton and east of Mapleton, according to Kansas Highway Patrol. That area is easily vulnerable to flooding.

There were no reports of injuries associated with the flooding in Bourbon County, Undersheriff Ron Gray said. However, a Mound City man had a close call when a Ford truck he was driving rolled over on Kansas Highway 31 early Sunday morning, Gray said. Tyler Spencer was traveling east on K31 when the truck hydroplaned, entered the ditch and rolled. Spencer was not injured, Gray said.

Numerous roads closed in Fort Scott and rural Bourbon County on Saturday and Sunday.

In Fort Scott, water submerged all of Clark Street from Third to Wall streets. Flood water drenched a portion of Wall Street under the U.S. 69 overpass. The city shut down Wall Street and the Third Street railroad underpass, forcing motorists to use Sixth Street for access to the west or east side.

Also shut down was a stretch of north National Avenue from the Marmaton River bridge to U.S. 54. It has since reopened, as well.

The area hasn't seen flooding this severe since 1998 and 1986. In his opinion, Gray said the 1998 flood was worse. However, he said, each flood is "unique" and has certain characteristics of its own. Gray said a Mapleton man told him areas in his part of the county experienced more flooding than they did in the 1986 flood.

"It could've been a lot worse," Gray said.

Associated Press news reports concurred with his assessment. About 40 percent of Osawatomie's 4,600 residents evacuated the town after its two rivers flooded the area, according to the Associated Press. In Coffeyville, 42,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Verdigris River from the Coffeyville Resources refinery Sunday, according to the AP. Forecasters said it could be days before area rivers begin returning to normal.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius declared on June 30 a state of disaster emergency for 12 counties in the southeast part of the state to ensure resources are available to counties. Additional counties have been added since then, bringing the total number of counties in the declaration to 18. The counties included in the disaster declaration are Anderson, Allen, Butler, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Cowley, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Linn, Miami, Montgomery, Neosho, Osage, Wilson and Woodson. Additional counties may to be added to the declaration as conditions deteriorate in the region.

Some of the other roads in the county that water submerged included 215th north of Fulton. The Little Osage River flooded about a one-half mile stretch of 215th , creating a rush of water reminiscent to a spillway from a dam.

Xavier Road in north Bourbon County was underwater from Kansas Highway 31 to U.S. Highway 69. 205th and Wagon Road became impassable. Kansas Highway 7 north of Wagon saw flood waters, as well.

Rainfall measured around 10 inches in Fort Scott and Bourbon County from Wednesday morning to Sunday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Drew Albert, a meteorologist with the NWS based in Springfield,Mo., said a stationary upper storm system centered along the Kansas and Oklahoma border produced the excessive rainfall. Albert said the low pressure system, which commonly produces thunderstorms and rain showers, didn't move quickly out of the region.

Instead, the storm system remained suspended over Southeast Kansas, dumping inch after inch of rain.

Albert said the combination of a big storm system that produced flash flooding on Thursday set off several smaller rounds of heavier rain the following days.

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