As farmers waited all summer for the rain, it never came. Now, here in late August and early September, it seems as if the rain won’t stop. By most projections, it’s not going to stop until sometime this weekend. For places like Manhattan, that may spell bad news.
Manhattan and the surrounding Riley County area experienced some scary flash floods late Sunday night and Monday morning. Nearly 9 inches of rain fell, causing major flooding on the western side of Manhattan. It has caused more than 300 people to be evacuated from their homes. The nine inches of rain caused the Wildcat Creek to overflow its banks and flood three different bridges. Two were on Kansas 18 and the other was on Scenic Drive. Water levels on Wildcat Creek reached 24 feet at one point Monday morning. By Tuesday morning, it was back down to around seven feet, which is still above normal, but down from the flood stage.
Fire and rescue crews began going door to door, and urging residents to evacuate, as the water rushed quickly around them. Some residents had items packed and ready to go , but experienced other difficulties such as car trouble. The water levels were so high that cars had been completely submerged underwater. Other people were caught a little more by surprise. They tried to get as many of their belongings together as they could, but they ended up having to leave almost everything. There was a steady stream of boats from the flood waters rescuing people for much of Monday.
There are around 750 homes still without power, and authorities are going to be cautious in getting power back to those homes, as they need to be checked to ensure that electrical power is not going to cause safety hazards. The areas particularly affected include Highland Ridge, Garden Way, Redbud Estate and Hunters Island. Some are referring to this storm as a 500-year event, but everyone has been rescued and evacuated safely.
Kansas State University has reported some minor flooding on the main campus. Petticoat Lane and Campus Creek Road being closed Monday morning. A mudslide also occurred along Blue River Road in Pottawatomie County, making that road impassible. Several Red Cross shelters have been set up, one is Pottorf Hall in Cico Park, one at the Riley County fairgrounds and an additional at Bramlage Coliseum.
Manhattan has experienced the worst of these storms, as they have had places in Manhattan flood that have never flooded before. But these storms are affecting all of the Midwest. It has been reported that Wisconsin is enduring its second-wettest August in its history. Emergency officials there have reported damages at more than $40 million. In Michigan, three tornadoes touched down and destroyed everything in their path.
That same storm system affected some sporting events over the weekend as well. Nebraska football was set to kick off their season Saturday, when the game was delayed due to lightning and rain. Eventually, the game was cancelled and left 90,000 excited Husker fans disappointed in their seats. About 250 miles away, Iowa State was preparing to play South Dakota State in their season opener, but they too were rained out. Neither game is likely to be made up.
As the water levels recede in Manhattan, many realize that they are not out of the woods quite yet. Manhattan remains in a flash flood watch for much of the week. They will see chances of rain at 80 percent on Tuesday, 90 percent on Wednesday, 40 percent on Thursday, 60 percent on Friday and 30 percent on Saturday before maybe seeing some relief this coming Sunday.
Topeka is not excited to be dealing with the flooding that Manhattan has, but is still forecasted to have rain all this week. It is predicted that Topeka will experience flooding; they will remain in a flash flood watch until later in the week.
Nearly half of all fatalities that happen surrounding a flash flood involve a person driving a vehicle. People feel so much power when they get behind the wheel. Do not drive into an area where water is covering the ground. It only takes 2 feet of water to carry away most cars. It also only takes 6 inches of fast-moving water to sweep a person off their feet. Everyone is encouraged to stay tuned to local weather stations to stay updated, as these severe thunderstorms make their way through the Midwest.