Harrisonville city workers scramble to save dam amid rushing, rising waters

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HARRISONVILLE, Mo. -- Wait and wonder.

That's all most people living in Harrisonville could do on Tuesday, as city workers scurried to prevent a dam from breaking, and adding to high flood waters, brought on by Monday's severe thunderstorms.

The shores of Lake Luna might be Harrisonville's busiest spot on Tuesday. The National Weather Service says this side of Cass County took on five inches of rain in seven hours during Monday's storm. It caused a partial failure in the dam at Lake Luna, sending flood waters rushing through Harrisonville City Park and into a nearby neighborhood.

Throughout Tuesday's workday, public workers used four pallets of sandbags as well as PVC tubing to try to relieve pressure on the dam. However, for people living nearby, it's too late. Richard McWilliams, who lives about 250 yards from the park's edge, says he checked his yard around 2 a.m, where he discovered two feet of water. Within an hour, Williams says the rising water was in the house, and it ruined the home's flooding, wrecked a fence and killed the family's flock of chickens.

"It looked like a river. It looked like my house was in the middle of a river," Williams told FOX 4 News. "It scared me more than anything because my family was inside."

Standing water in Harrisonville City Park has been on a daylong decline. Harrisonville's mayor, Brian Hasek, says a police officer discovered a leak in the dam during the overnight hours. People are now returning to the 20 homes that were evacuated.

"It was in lower areas where they knew the water had risen," Hasek said on Tuesday.

"I think we're kind of in that state of shock where we don't know how we're going to address it. The sewer lines just got overloaded and they just couldn't take anymore. It's not that they failed. It's just too much water at once."

Hasek says one of the dam's endcaps failed, causing the spillways to overload. He says city workers continue to keep an eye on the dam into Tuesday night to ensure public safety.

"We're going to do checks on it. Just to see how everything's holding up. If it looks like things are deteriorating, we'll start making preparations to get more stuff in and just keep citizens informed as to what is or isn't happening," Harrisonville Police Lt. Chris Osterberg told FOX 4 News.

Mayor Hasek says once the flood waters recede, he wants to see testing done to help make sure this doesn't happen again. After all, this is the second time Harrisonville has been hit by flood waters this summer. People living here don't want to see a third.

School was cancelled for the day at Harrisonville City Schools. Mayor Hasek says the city's Board of Aldermen have decided to waive all permit fees for repairs needed as a result of recent floods.

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