Flooding from Verdigris River near Coffeyville. (Photo by Jane Welch, Public Affairs Office)

19-036 Flood response update: Water levels being watched

Kansas state agencies continue their response to severe weather, heavy rains and flooding that has hit the state over the past week. The State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka was activated May 20 and will remain activated to monitor weather conditions across the state and respond to requests for assistance.

“Kansas is facing historic flooding due to record rainfall during the month of May,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “We continue to monitor this serious situation and work closely with our local, state and federal partners to ensure Kansans impacted by flooding have the resources and support they need. At times like this, it is critical that we put safety first and heed warnings from local officials. We must also look out for our friends and neighbors who are facing many challenges.”

Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency management, discusses flooding along the Verdigris River with officials from Coffeyville and Montgomery County emergency management. (Photo by Jane Welch, Public Affairs Office)

Water levels at several U.S. Army Corps of Engineer reservoirs are being closely monitored, including Tuttle Creek, Perry Lake, Toronto Lake, Fall River Lake, Elk City Lake, and John Redmond Reservoir among others. Perry Lake began releasing water on Sunday, May 26, and is maintaining 5,000 cubic feet per second release. This rate would fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in less than 18 seconds.

The levees along the Verdigris River near Coffeyville are being watched due to the water levels threatening the Coffeyville Resources refinery. Multiple state resources have been deployed to support local operations with a potential levee overtop and/or breach. These resources include Kansas National Guard soldiers, mobile light towers, water rescue resources, and hazardous material teams.

Sandbags top a levee along the Verdigris River near Coffeyville. (Photo by Jane Welch, Public Affairs Office)

The Kansas National Guard has deployed a mobile Emergency Operations Center along with personnel to support county emergency operations. This includes prepositioned high wheeled vehicles and personnel at designated positions throughout the affected areas. Airmen from the Kansas National Guard’s 184th Intelligence Wing’s Unclassified Processing Assessment and Dissemination continue to support KDEM with geospatial imagery.

The Red Cross is operating a shelter in Montgomery County at First Southern Baptist Church, 2701 W 8th St., Coffeyville. Five shelters are on standby in Dickinson, Jefferson, Neosho, and Saline Counties. Two pet shelters are on standby in Jefferson County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol is doing aerial flood damage assessment using their Bell 407 helicopter.

The Kansas Wing of Civil Air Patrol is supporting KDEM by taking aerial photos of flood waters.

Flooding continues to impact roadways across Kansas. Updated road information can be found at www.KanDrive.org. The site displays information from KDOT’s traveler information technology, including highway cameras, dynamic message signs, traffic management centers and 511 phone, online and mobile (http://511mm.ksdot.org).

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing four water pumps, manual sandbag machines, approximately 173,000 sandbags and Hesco barriers.

A total of 49 counties have been named in a state of disaster declaration signed by Governor Laura Kelly on May 9. Counties included in the declaration are: Allen, Anderson, Barber, Barton, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Comanche, Cowley, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Elk, Franklin, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Hodgeman, Jefferson, Kingman, Lincoln, Linn, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Montgomery, Morris, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Riley, Rush, Saline, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Wilson, and Woodson.

The governor sent a request to President Donald Trump May 26 seeking emergency federal assistance.  Emergency declarations supplement state and local government efforts through direct federal assistance for emergency debris removal and emergency protective action measures. The emergency declaration request is currently under review and the state has not yet received a determination. Assistance was also requested from other states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

State and Federal agencies that have reported to the SEOC are Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Kansas National Guard, Civil Air Patrol, Office of the State Fire Marshal, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Department for Children and Families, Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Water Office, National Weather Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, and FEMA. Other partners in the SEOC are the American Red Cross and support from Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.