Flood prep

Don’s Tire prepares for the floodwater on South Buckeye Avenue. If the floodwater reaches 1993 levels, there will be a foot of water in the office area.

Prepare for what we think is coming and hope it’s not that bad.

Troy Leigh, of Prairieland Partners, and others offered that advice Tuesday afternoon.

The county has sandbags for Dickinson County residents at the county yard on S.E. Second Street, Chapman Elementary School and the city of Solomon maintenance yard, said Tony Whitehair, agriculture agent at the Dickinson County Extension Office.

Volunteers were filling the bags Tuesday, and he said he thought they might be needed today, too. To help, “just show up and be ready to work,” he said.

Mud Creek has started to fall, as of Tuesday afternoon, but Chapman Creek at Chapman and the Smoky Hill River at Abilene and Enterprise are all above flood stage and won’t crest until today or later in the week.

The Extension office is one of those being sandbagged, and Whitehair said he’s moving things up off the floor, in case water makes it into the building on South Buckeye.

A neighbor, Don’s Tire & Supply, 712 S. Buckeye, also is using sandbags.

The county is good enough to haul in sand, said owner Don Nebelsick. Nebelsick also had gravel hauled in to create a furrow around the building.

His driveway is a low point in the area.

“The county and everybody’s working to help,” he said.

If there’s a good side to this, it’s the way everyone comes together to help each other, he said.

Nebelsick remembers the last big flood, of 1993.

“I’ll never forget it,” he said.

If this flood reaches those levels, he’ll have a foot of water in the office, he said.

The Smoky Hill reached 32.10 feet near Abilene in July 1993. It’s expected to crest at just under 30 feet this week, an improvement over earlier forecasts.

Unfortunately, Nebelsick said, in 1993 some of the hinges on floodgates across Mud Creek were broken. The water would have reached his business, anyway, he said, but it got there sooner it would have.

Whitehair was only 5 in 1993, but he remembers the 1993 flood vividly, as well. His grandmother’s house south of town had water in the basement and the yard. That house is being sandbagged this time, too.

It’s a balance, he said, of taking care of personal stuff and business stuff and making sure you’ve done all you can.

Susan Steinhour, office manager at The Hitching Post in Old Abilene Town, said people, including owner Julie Ward, were out sandbagging the south and west sides, at least, of the building and the doors Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s a little daunting, to be sure,” Steinhour said.

Despite the high water and forecast of more rain, she said the restaurant expects to be open as usual this weekend.

“We’re really playing it by ear, like everyone else,” she said.

Tony Leigh, with PrairieLand Partners on South Buckeye, has been busy moving his stock of farm machinery to higher ground, “doing some preparing for the possibility of flooding,” he said.

He can see the bridge over the Smoky Hill from his business, but not the river itself, which is a mile or a bit more, from where he is.

State of emergency

In the event of flooding, it will be easier to get help. Gov. Laura Kelly issued a state of emergency because of the heavy rains on May 9 and has added several more counties to that list, including Dickinson County.

That’s very helpful, Whitehair said, because it opens up all sorts of state and federal support for getting supplies, such as sand.

And there all sorts of resources, mostly through FEMA, that will be needed he said.

After the waters recede, people need to be careful about mold and other health issues. Handouts for dealing with many of those problems will be available at the Extension office, he said.

Flooded fields

Farmers will have more problems to deal with after the waters go down.

After 24 to 28 hours under water, wheat drowns, Whitehair said. When the wheat drowns, that crop is lost for the season.

Some farmers have planted corn and that can be drowned out, too, although there is still time to plant corn again.

Even fields that aren’t flooded, on a hill, for example, can be too wet for crops.

Also, it takes time for the fields to recover, Whitehair said, and to remove the debris that may have floated in.

At this point, he said, we’re “very, very fortunate” that we’re not facing what Nebraska and Missouri went through about a month ago, when area farmers sent supplies and money to help them through their own flood and cold spell.

He echoed Nebelsick’s sentiment about neighbors helping neighbors in stress.

“The ag community across the United States is very, very great in the way they come together,” Whitehair said.

Contact Jean Bowers at reporter2@abilene-rc.com.

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

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