River rising

Thursday afternoon waters from the Smoky Hill River breached the northeast levee at the Kansas Highway 15 bridge. Dickinson County officials were standing by, ready to close the road. The National Weather Service is predicting the Smoky Hill River to crest at 30.5 feet at 6 p.m. Friday and again at 6 p.m. Sunday. The river at Enterprise is forecast to peak at 35.2 feet at 6 a.m. Saturday.

Motorists driving roads in Dickinson County are warned to be especially cautious during the current flood conditions.

“We have expended all the barricades we have,” Dickinson County Administrator Brad Homman said Thursday, explaining all barricades currently are in use.

“Just because there’s no barricade doesn’t mean the road is not closed,” Homman emphasized. “Use some common sense when you’re driving down a road — especially after dark. You may come across water standing across the road and once you’re into it, it’s kind of difficult.”

Information on current road closures and other flood information can be found on the Dickinson County website www.dkcoks.org by clicking on the link “May 2019 Flooding” on the home page.

Forecast

With scattered thunderstorms in the forecast over the next few days, flood preparations continue in Dickinson County.

“One thing I’ve said over and over as much as possible: Do not drive through standing water. Even though it may look like it’s not very deep, we’ve got pictures that show culverts and small structures are gone underneath them,” Homman said.

“You may be driving into a 12-foot hole and they may not see your vehicle again until the water subsides.”

Many fields and roads already are under water and more were going under Thursday morning.

Solomon and Eden roads where they cross over the Smoky Hill River were both closed Thursday morning. At that time, flagmen also were monitoring Rain Road and the water was expected to cross over it soon, Homman said.

Emergency

Since the county declared a state of emergency on Monday, the county has been holding daily emergency management briefings. During Thursday morning’s meeting, city representatives and emergency responders learned the Smoky Hill River south of Abilene was expected to crest at about 30.5 feet sometime late Friday or Saturday.

“That’s all very dependent and very fluid depending on what we get for rain,” Homman said. “But we’re relatively confident we’re going to get 2 to 4 inches in the next day or two starting this (Thursday) afternoon. That includes runoff.”

Flood stage for the river at Sand Springs is 27 feet. At 8 a.m. Thursday morning the river was at 28.6 feet, according to the National Weather Service in Topeka. At 30 feet, water crosses Kansas Highway 15 south of Abilene.

Still preparing

Sandbags have been placed at the Dickinson County Extension office, located on south Buckeye. Some businesses in the south part of town also have been sandbagged.

A post on the Dickinson County Emergency Communications Facebook page Thursday afternoon noted that volunteers were needed at the county highway shop located at 408 SE 2nd Street in Abilene to fill sandbags.

The cities of Chapman and Solomon have placed sandbags in the downtown areas.

“I’m really impressed with the level of preparation the county has that trickles down to the city when you have an emergency like this,” said County Counselor Doug Thompson.

“A lot of time goes into the anticipation of a disaster. A lot of planning goes into that. Others would say it’s a lot of wasted time if it doesn’t happen but when it does happen, you see it’s choreographed very well,” Thompson continued.

“That’s what the situation is here. Every community that is at risk has fed off the county for information and they have worked diligently,” he said.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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