After 5 months of flooding on Missouri River, metro park starts massive cleanup

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SUGAR CREEK, Mo. — Along the Missouri River, late-sprouting farm fields are littered with splotches of bare, soggy Earth.  High water seeping up through the ground still renders parts of the fields useless. It’s along this river and its tributaries where community parks and water access has been closed and restricted for five months.

Officials are finally close to opening the boat ramp at LaBenite Park, aiming for mid-to-late August. Now that the Missouri River’s water level has decreased, there’s a lot of work to do.

Workers for the city have already started collecting the layer of silt that the flood waters left behind. Mountains of sand are piled up in the park’s parking lot and boat ramp. Even more sand and dirt litters the roads, river banks and bathroom facilities. Grass and weeds reach more than 6 feet tall in some areas.

Police Chief Chris Soule said the city has started working toward re-opening the park by removing the sand and cutting the grass. He said they hope to be finished in 1-2 weeks, weather permitting.

However, heavy rain showers continue to plague Kansas and Missouri with flash flooding where some areas have received up to 10 inches of rain within 24 hours.

Families, fishermen and boaters aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of the long-term flooding. Waterfowl hunting could also feel the flooding because the habitats that attract the birds have mostly been under water. Companies that rely on river access have been unable to operate for most of the summer.

Kansas City Kayak and Canoe operator Tom Bailey told FOX4 he hasn’t been able to schedule any of his normal tours around Kansas City all summer. He said the boat ramps were built for lower water and normally open around 21 feet.

As of Aug. 9, the National Weather Service recorded the Missouri River just above this level at 21.2, although the forecast shows it decreasing below 21 feet over the next week.

A spokesperson for Up A Creek kayak and canoe rental in Lawrence, Kansas also said they have been affected by flooding and upstream water release. They have been scheduling smaller events on local lakes to keep business afloat.

Some parks in the Kansas City area have re-opened, such as Kaw Point. This Kansas City, Kansas park was completely under water earlier this year.

Although waters will likely remain higher than usual for a while, those who normally take to the river in the summer may still get a chance as the warm weather winds down for the year.

Picture of the Missouri River flow chart
Picture from the National Weather Service

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