Torrential Rains Cause Historic Flooding, Strand Residents in South Kansas City

A family of seven were trapped on top of their roof after rushing floodwaters surrounded their home.

by Robert A. Cronkleton, Joe Robertson and Ian Cummings, The Kansas City Star / August 22, 2017

(TNS) - Torrential rains fell overnight causing historic flooding in south Kansas City, Mo., and leading to water rescues and evacuations. As many as 9 inches of rain fell since Monday.

Early Tuesday firefighters rescued a woman stranded in a tree at 103rd Street and Wornall Road when Indian Creek flooded the area. That creek, which saw record flooding last month, set a new record of 28.22 feet overnight.

A family of seven were trapped on top of their roof after rushing floodwaters surrounded their home at 155th Street and Kenneth Road. The Overland Park Fire Department have been in contact via phone with the family of three adults and four children and their pets.

Because they are not in immediate danger and the water levels around them are receding, crews will allow those water levels to drop to safer levels before evacuating the family. Firefighters said the family is calm.

Floodwaters were out of the banks of Indian Creek and over bridges as businesses, apartments and homes were inundated and residents were evacuated. Numerous water rescues were ongoing early Tuesday.

Kansas City police and firefighters responded to more than 272 water-related calls since 10 p.m. Monday and into Tuesday morning.

Of those calls, 62 were for water rescues. First responders rescued 40 people from the Swope Parkway Industrial Complex.

The American Red Cross set up an emergency shelter Tuesday at the Southeast Community Center in Swope Park, where at least two families arrived in the morning after being displaced by flooding along Indian Creek.

Shelter manager Terri Layton said the shelter would be open throughout the day. “Right now, we’re providing them with a safe place to rest, to get something to eat, until we can get them home,” she said.

Emergency responders are closely monitoring the Blue River that is estimated to crest around noon. They were paying close attention to the area near 85th Street and Hickman Road.

Around 10:30 a.m. an emergency rescue team with a boat retrieved workers who were trapped in the flooded Dodson Industrial District along the Blue River on 85th Street between Prospect Avenue and Hickman Mills Drive.

A half dozen employees at Ryan Lawn and Tree, rescued by the emergency crew, had gone into work around 6 a.m., after the rain had stopped at a time 85th was still clear.

They didn’t know the river was rising until other workers trying to get to the shop called around 6:30 a.m. and said 85th street was closed and flooded.

“That’s when we went out and looked,” Mark DeDonder said. “We couldn’t get out.”

What they saw was flooding at a level they hadn’t seen before or ever expected.

“We never figured it would get this tall, Frank Dobbins said.

At the corner of 85th and Hickman Mills Drive, employees at Genesys System Integrator had to unbolt a section of steel fencing and lay down an improvised driveway of pallets and plywood to drive vehicles out as the flood was rising over its parking lot, manufacturing manager David Summa said.

Finally, about 10:10 a.m. a bolt marker they had set down and moved at the edge of the water showed that the river crest was finally receding.

Staff at Jack Stack Barbecue Catering south of 135th Street on Holmes Road in Martin City drove trucks to safety as water from the Blue River and storm sewers flooded the parking lot and approached its buildings.

“It’s still coming up,” said general manager Chris Hayes around 8 a.m.. He’s been with company 12 years and has “never seen it do this before.”

Across the street, Cornerstones of Care’s Ozanam School was turning away staff as the road to the campus was overwhelmed in water.

The staff and resident students on campus were not in any danger of flooding, and there is a back road in, but only essential staff were being ferried in.

“No one else can go through here,” said Lauren Vincent of Cornerstones of Care, standing at the edge of the flooded road.

Any bridges that were covered with floodwaters or where water approached underneath the bridge will remain closed until they have been inspected, police said.

At 11 a.m., police said there were seven bridges awaiting inspection or for the water to recede.

People were urged to stay out of the areas affected by the overnight floods and not to drive into standing or rushing water.

The Kansas City police also asked people to stay out of the areas of 85th Street and Hickman Mills Drive, Gregory Boulevard and Oldham Road and 75th Street and Monroe Avenue.

Those areas are flooded or could become flooded until the Blue River crests. Power has also been shut off to the Swope Parkway Industrial Area, which has been evacuated, because of flooding.

Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said via Twitter about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday that people were still driving into water.

“Do not put yourself or emergency responders at risk,” Berardi tweeted.

The National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill issued a Flash Flood Emergency for the entire Kansas City area and said that many areas had flooding worse than the morning of July 27.

Firefighters also rescued a man on top of a floating car in the Blue River near Minor Park early Tuesday.

This is the third time in less than a month that heavy rains have dumped more than 6 inches of rain over many parts of the Kansas City area. For some areas, rainfall totals in the last 30 days range between 20 and 25 inches.

At one point, the Kansas City Police Department released a list of nearly two dozen roads that were closed or were about to be closed because of flooding.

Many of the roads have reopened, but streets along the Blue River and Indian Creek corridors remained closed as of 7 a.m., according to Kansas City police.

The exits from westbound Interstate 435 to State Line and Wornall roads were closed because of flooding.

Also, Gardner Avenue and North Chouteau Trafficway and North Belmont Boulevard and Chouteau remained flooded as of 5:30 a.m.

Raytown Road and Eastern Avenue and Hillcrest and Oldham roads remained closed.

In addition to the road closures, several schools — including Harrisonville, Center and Archie — and businesses are closed or are delayed because of the flooding.

Other schools were delaying the start of classes — Park Hill, Notre Dame de Sion and Smithville — or were having bus transportation delays — Excelsior Springs and Grandview.

Kansas City Power and Light was reporting as of 7:30 a.m. that about 6,600 customer were without power. The areas with the most outages included Clay County, with 1,433 customers without power; Jackson County, 2,199; and Johnson County, 1,040.

Independence Power & Light had 1,489 customers without power. The Kansas City, Kan., Board of Public Utility had 232 customers without power.

Tony Rizzo contributed to this story.

This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb


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