Flooding shuts down KS town

BY KRISTINA KNIGHT | EASTON, KS | June 21, 2001



"We're seeing 150 homes and 58 mobile homeswith standing water."

—Joy Moser


Interstates have shut down and many people still cannot go home as floodwaters continued to saturate northeastern Kansas Friday. Nearly one-third of Easton, KS residents have been evacuated. They are now staying with family or friends, or in one of the shelters set up throughout town.

Electricity and natural gas service has been cut to the flooded homes and several other Easton residences, and tap water is off-limits until tests can determine whether it is safe.

Interstate 70, which is rarely closed except for blizzard conditions in the west,

shut down eastbound and westbound lanes Thursday. The westbound lanes

of a stretch between Bonner Springs and Lawrence will be closed until

Stranger Creek subsides. Kansas Turnpike Authority officials opened one

eastbound lane at 6 a.m. Thursday. Travelers over the interstate have said

that the road looks bad.

Joy Moser of Kansas emergency

management said, "We're going to be

looking at roads, bridges, culverts to see

if the waters washed away parts of the

roads."

But still the majority of the damage faced

will be by homeowners. Moser said,

"We're seeing 150 homes and 58 mobile

homes with standing water. We've seen

up to 5 feet of water in homes, but the worst, 8 feet was in the grade school

[in Easton]."

There is no way to know how long the waters will continue to crest from the

Dawson and Stranger creeks. Until then, the Salvation Army and American

Red Cross are working to get some basic necessities to the evacuated

residents.

Dee Stinger, disaster relief services manager for The Salvation Army said,

"Most folks in the smaller communities are good at helping themselves, looking

after themselves. People help one another, so we're just filling in the basics of

food and clothing."

To serve the people, The Salvation Army has set up a canteen that travels

throughout the community. More than 200 people have taken advantage of

the canteen in the past two days, for the food, clothing, or emotional support

and in some cases a place to stay.

The Salvation Army is helping those who are sheltering friends or family

members in their home.

Stinger said, "We help them with food and things because when you take in

friends and family and have those extra mouths to feed, it isn't easy. We're

also giving vouchers for prescriptions, baby formula, diapers."

But still, most homeowners are not home, and have no idea how long they

will be away.

Officials with the Kansas Emergency Management Agency said they are not

sure how long damage assessment will take. They have had teams in the area

for the past two days, looking at damaged homes, roads, bridges and

buildings. Their big problem now is that they cannot determine how extensive

the damage is until the water levels recede.

"We have to wait," Moser said, "for water levels to drop. Until then, there

isn't a lot we can do."

Dee Stinger is just hopeful that for the next few days the rains will stay away,

so those water levels can begin to go down. "Hopefully with no rain over the

next couple of days, the water will go down and stay down...but it really

depends on the weather. We're doing pretty good. We'll know more when

the water crests and recedes because the longer the water is up and in the

homes, the more damage will be done."

And so far it looks like Mother Nature is working for the response teams.

Meteorologists say the skies look clear through the weekend for the area.

That means that with some luck, the waters will go down and the response

community can see just what needs to be done.

After the floodwaters recede, the real work will begin. At that point, The

Salvation Army will look at individual cases and do what they can to replace

appliances like stoves and refrigerators and help folks replace furniture.

"For most folks," Stinger said, "They will have to make a flood insurance claim,

and we can't replace their home, but we can help them with some appliances.

Or, if they had a bedroom in a basement that was destroyed, we can help

them replace that."

But for now, residents in the tiny town of Easton will just have to wait for the

waters to go down. Until then, they won't know what can be saved and

what has been destroyed.


Related Topics:

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How US flood insurance works

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