ATCHISON, KAN. — In the calm after the storms, fears are now shifting to flooding.
Communities up and down the Missouri River are bracing for impacts of rising water. The river is well above flood stage and expected to crest over the next two days.
Highway 59 in Rushville, Missouri, is submerged in water. Areas normally home to farm fields in Atchison, Kansas, now look like lakes.
“It wasn’t in the driveway there at 8 o’clock this morning, but it is now,” Tom Reese said.
Crews cut off electricity to Reese’s home Thursday morning as waters creep onto his property. He just got done cleaning up after the last major flooding, which poured two feet of water inside his house.
“It just sucks,” Reese said.
Now it’s happening all over again, with record river levels predicted this weekend, and he’s ready to evacuate if needed.
“The rain — I just didn’t think it was ever gonna stop. What are you going to do? Just keep on going,” Reese said.
High above the river banks from Jackson Park you can see just how wide the Missouri River is, sprawling into many areas it shouldn’t be. One property now looks like a private island.
“The water is just phenomenal,” Marcia Sullivan said.
Down below at Veterans Memorial Park, many are coming to watch the water rise.
“I’m from Nebraska where we’ve had a lot of flooding, but this is amazing. We were just down here last evening, and it wasn’t up over the sidewalk yet. But today it’s already covering the sidewalk in places and moving pretty fast,” Sullivan said.
Huge pieces of debris like picnic tables are churning down river as water crashes against railroad tracks below the Amelia Earhart Bridge.
“I’ve fished this bank all my life. It’s never been like this for three months,” Atchison resident Todd Andre said.
Ron Sanderson is watching, too, and knows many are paying the price from prolonged flooding.
“This flood is not as bad but getting close to the way it was two or three months ago. Farmer up north lost almost 800 hogs. Only 14 hogs existed out of all his hogs. So it’s getting there again real quick,” Sanderson said.
Many are now just left to nervously watch and hope there’s no major damage this time.
Despite road closures and threats to some properties, no active sandbagging operations are underway in Atchison or Leavenworth counties.
Neighboring communities, including St. Joseph, said sandbags put out this spring are still holding water back. St. Joseph did make some additional repairs to a railroad berm, which it hopes will also help prevent major flooding.
The river is expected to crest in Atchison on Friday into Saturday, at major flood stage of over 30 feet.