"Memorial Day Weekend is a time many Kansans head outside or to the lake, said Governor Laura Kelly. In many areas, conditions are not safe. Please, put the safety of yourself and your family first. Follow warnings and instructions from local officials they are looking out for your safety. If advised to evacuate, do so quickly and safely." Three additional counties (Allen, Pawnee and Rush) have been added to the state of disaster declaration signed by Kelly on May 9. The declaration currently includes: Anderson, Barber, Barton, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Comanche, Cowley, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Elk, Franklin, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Jefferson, Kingman, Lincoln, Lyon, Marion, McPherson, Meade, Montgomery, Morris, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Pottawatomie, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Riley, Saline, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Wilson and Woodson. The state declaration may be further amended to include any additional counties that experience flooding. The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties that meet certain criteria. The Kansas National Guard will preposition high wheeled vehicles and personnel at designated positions to assist with the evacuation process if needed. Nine Airmen from the Kansas National Guards 184th Intelligence Wings Unclassified Processing Assessment and Dissemination continue to support the Kansas Division of Emergency Management with geospatial imagery. The UPAD will provide unclassified satellite imagery of affected areas, which will be used for real-time condition, damage assessment, predictive analysis and situational awareness. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing water pump support, two manual sandbag machines and to date approximately 170,500 sandbags and a Hesco barrier. Multiple roadways have been closed throughout the state. For updated road information go online to www.KanDrive.org. The site displays information from KDOTs traveler information technology, including highway cameras, dynamic message signs, traffic management centers and 511 phone, online and mobile (http://511mm.ksdot.org). The American Red Cross has opened shelters in Neosho County (Erie High School, 1400 N Main St., Erie) and Saline County (Covenant Church, 2625 E Magnolia Rd., Salina). Shelters are on standby in the counties of Coffey, and Dickinson. The Kansas State Animal Response Team is supporting pet sheltering efforts as needed. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism wants to advise residents that live in the areas where flooding is occurring that they may encounter more wildlife than usual. Animals that live near bodies of water or in low-lying areas will be forced to temporarily move to other locations to survive. They could congregate on high-ground "islands," in residential or commercial areas or around outbuildings. Small animals may enter homes that are not well-sealed. You may see animals such as rabbits, rodents, lizards, snakes, turtles, insects, certain birds or even larger critters such as coyotes and deer. Here are some tips to be aware of when you spot a flood-weary animal:
- Leave them alone. They just need a refuge from high water and might just be passing through. Any animal may bite in self-defense, but they will not set out to harm you.
- Small animals like lizards and snakes may congregate and take shelter under shrubs, rocks and debris. Use caution and protective clothing like long pants, gloves and sturdy shoes if you need to work in the yard or garden.
- Do not reach blindly under rocks and debris. You don't like surprises, and neither will a sheltering animal.
- Many animals can swim, so use caution if removing possessions from a flooded dwelling.
- Do not try to feed them. Feeding them may encourage them to overstay their welcome.
- Given time, the water will recede, giving animals the opportunity to return to their former habitats, so be patient and be a good neighbor to your wildlife friends.
- Most animals are able to adapt to changing weather conditions, but be aware that some animals are likely to perish - but many more are likely to survive.
- Ground-nesting birds and other animals may lose their nests or burrows and their eggs or young ones. For the most part, animal populations will eventually recover from catastrophes.
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 and FEMA. Other partners in the SEOC is the American Red Cross.