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Osawatomie Flooding

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Here We Go Again
Marais des Cygnes reaches highest level since 1951.
By Carol Chitwood
Osawatomie Graphic (Nov. 1998)

     For the second time in less than a month, the Marais des Cygnes River
left its banks in Osawatomie and throughout the area. The river crested in
Osawatomie at 42.9 feet about 11 a.m. Tuesday.  It remained at that level
throughout the afternoon and began to recede at 6 p.m., when the reading
was 42.8.  The water continued to drop through the night.  City officials
did not have an official reading Wednesday morning because the gauge was

     Randy Newport, a power plant spokesman, said some city employees had
looked at the gauge through binoculars and seen a reading of 41.8 late
Tuesday night.  He said employees would have to go out to the pump house
in a boat Wednesday and knock the gauge loose.  This week’s flood was the
first time the river had topped the 40-foot mark since Sept. 14, 1961,
when it crested at 41.8 feet.  Flood stage is 28 feet.  The highest river
reading ever recorded here was July 13, 1951 when the river crested at
50.3 feet.

     From the time of its founding, Osawatomie residents in low-lying
areas evacuated their homes each year when the area flooded.  That
changed after construction of the levee system around the city was
completed Nov. 6, 1970.  Flood gates were partially closed at two
locations in Osawatomie Tuesday.  Two or three tiers of the gate were put
into place where the railroad passes through the dike just west of Sixth
Street and at the opening on First Street just south of an abandoned

     Floodwaters spread over dozens of roads around the county and
hundreds of acres of farm land.  There were reports of vehicles stranded
in flood water at various locations around the county.  Members of the
Leroy and Renie Anderson family were surrounded by water in their home at
38630 W. 339th St. northwest of Osawatomie.  Anderson managed to drive his
truck along an abandoned railroad bed to higher ground.  The family was
using a boat to travel between their house and the truck.

     The Miami County Underwater Recovery Team was called out Tuesday
afternoon to rescue two men stranded in a cabin at 34839 Hospital Drive,
about 4 miles east of Osawatomie.  Law enforcement officers said Kelly
Roberts of Paola and Jim Smith of Osawatomie went to the cabin at midday.
About 2 1/2 hours later, they found the water had risen, trapping them.
The dive team rescued them without incident.

     The Marais des Cygnes River also flooded large areas in Franklin
County.  Flood gates were closed in Ottawa Sunday.  Also feeling the wrath
of the river are areas down stream from Osawatomie.  Kansas Highway 152
west of La Cygne was closed from the river bridge, to a point west of
County Road 1095 and still rising Wednesday morning.  Hundreds of acres of
farm land were also under water in Linn County.

Flood levels recorded on the Marais des Cygnes River over the last 10 years.
Flood stage is 28 feet:

1998: Nov. 3 - 42.9; Oct. 6 - 37.6

1997: April - 33.7; Feb. 23 - 32.1

1996: June 8 - 33.4

1995: May 18 - 39.5; May 28 - 30.8; June 11 - 35.9

1994: April 12 - 29.5; April 30 - 37.2; June 9 - 31.2

1993: March 3 - 30.4; May 11 - 37.5; July 8 - 34.1;
      July 23 - 39.5; Sept. 27 - 32.4

1992: Nov. 22 - 34.0; Dec. 16 - 36.4

1990: March 16 - 28.2; May 17 - 40.0

1988: April 3 - 35.5

Historic Highs...

1961: Sept. 14 - 41.8

1951: July 13 - 50.3


Last modified October 30, 2002 in
Olathe, Kansas by Chris Adams.