‘It was preventable’: KCK neighbors suing over issues they say led to flooding

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- People living in the Argentine neighborhood of KCK are fed up with repeated flooding.

Now, a new federal lawsuit alleges Wyandotte County's Unified Government and BNSF Railroad's actions caused creek water to get out of control.

Severe flooding is a nightmare Leticia Macias has lived through four times in her KCK community.

"We lost everything in my garage, everything inside my house," she said.

Macias and her family have lived in the Argentine area more than a decade. Even though their house is right beside a creek bed, they'd never had major flooding until the summer of 2017.

"We didn't even know why," Macias said.

Frustrated, she started to do a little digging.

"We followed the creek to 42nd Street, and we saw that it was blocked off," Macias said.

She and several of her neighbors are now suing BNSF Railroads and Wyandotte County's Unified Government.

In the lawsuit, they allege "BNSF knowingly dumped debris in the creek," and that the UG was negligent by "allowing conditions to exist," which together caused the flooding.

"If we don't take care of our yards, we get in trouble. They ticket us. If you don't do your part, then I have the right to tell you, 'Hey, you're going to get ticketed, too. You're going to get fined,'" Macias said.

And Macias has proof of what she views as illegal dumping and negligent maintenance. She snapped pictures of sand mounds covering storm drains and huge tree limbs blocking the water's natural flow.

A culvert near her house was clogged by debris and a drainage ditch wasn't even visible, covered by massive overgrowth of weeds and trees.

"I didn't even know there was a dip right there. That's how high it was," Macias said.

Improvements have now been made to clear away debris, open up the drains and ditches and relocate fencing. There's been no major flooding in the neighborhood since.

But Macias said the city needs to commit to regular maintenance and pay up for the repeated damage she and her neighbors have endured.

"I've got to stand up for the little I do have, you know. That's my reason of standing up to them," Macias said.

Right now, six neighbors are part of the new federal class action lawsuit. They're asking for damages exceeding $75,000.

Wyandotte County's Unified Government and BNSF Railroads won't comment on pending litigation.

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