OSAWATOMIE — Mike Fleming needed some good news after widespread flooding paralyzed portions of Miami County for three days.
Fleming, the county’s emergency management coordinator, received that encouragement Wednesday, May 22, when the National Weather Service predicted the swollen Marais des Cygnes River would crest that afternoon.
Heavy rain and at times strong winds battered the region Monday, May 20, and by early Tuesday, May 21, the river had topped the 28-foot flood stage.
Heavy rain continued to fall Tuesday. National Weather Service at Pleasant Hill, Mo., issued a flood warning for the Marais des Cygnes River at Osawatomie until Saturday evening. That warning later was extended until Monday, May 27, when the river was expected to drop below flood stage.
Pottawatomie and Bull creeks topped their banks because of the deluge. Water spreading from those creeks and the river caused flooding in low-lying areas.
Bull Creek floodwaters cut a wide swath through Wallace Park in Paola. Flooding from Pottawatomie Creek forced the city of Osawatomie to put in stop logs at its southwest levee gate, and railroad traffic ceased.
Widespread flooding caused several roads to close. The Miami County Sheriff’s Office posted a list Tuesday of road closings due to flooding. The list grew the next morning.
But by the Wednesday afternoon the tide began to turn.
“The National Weather Service is confident the river has gone about as high as it’s going to go,” Fleming said Wednesday afternoon, after speaking with NWS officials during a webinar.
The NWS forecast proved to be accurate. The river crested at 40.27 feet at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday and had receded 4 feet to 36.19 feet by early Friday, May 24, according to the NWS.
It was the first time the Marais des Cygnes River topped 40 feet at Osawatomie since the historic July 1, 2007, flood in which the river rose to 49.19 feet, according to NWS river crest data.
On the other side of town, Pottawatomie Creek crested upstream at about midnight Tuesday, and was expected to crest at Osawatomie Wednesday afternoon, according to a city news release.
Ottawa closed its Main Street floodgate on Tuesday. Downstream in Osawaotmie, public works crews installed stop logs in the levee’s southwest gate about 3 a.m. Wednesday to prevent rising water from entering town, City Manager Don Cawby said later that morning.
The next locations where stop logs would be installed in Osawatomie were at First Street and the North Railroad Bridge, but the river crested before that became necessary. The need to deploy additional emergency measures in Osawatomie continued to diminish with the receding river.
City officials said four stationary pumps and six mobile pumps were being used to address ponding areas near the levee, caused by two days of excessive rain.
“Everything is being done at this time to keep up with the excess water,” Cawby said Wednesday.
Osawatomie Public Works Director Bill Roseberry said he was impressed with how well city employees quickly responded and banded together to get the job done.
“I really want to commend our staff from every department involved for all of their cooperation and how well they were able to manage things,” Roseberry said.