Ottawa officials close flood gates after heavy rain causes river to rise quickly


OTTAWA, Kan. – There are new flood concerns in Ottawa, Kansas, as the Marais Des Cygnes River quickly rises.

As an immediate precaution, the city closed the flood gates on Main Street on Monday afternoon.

“We have crews on 24 hours a day when we are in a flood stage like this,” said Director of Ottawa Public Works Mike Haeffele.

Haeffele said the water rose quicker than expected following the heavy weekend rain.

Crews are working to clear the large amounts of debris including trees, logs and trash that is jamming underneath the Main Street Bridge and the footbridge on Prairie Spirit Trail.

“This is our entertainment. People are going to be getting off work and this is where they are going to be coming. “Look at this! you can just watch the water flow down,” said Betty Birzer who lives in Ottawa.

People living in Ottawa say they can almost count on this happening every year and it’s watching the river and clean-up is becoming somewhat of a tradition.

The latest big flood event happened in August of 2019. The rising water levels backed into homes and businesses in the downtown area.

FOX4 was there as businesses began the clean-up process.

“Really the only thing we have to do this kind of work and the only way to do it is with cables, big hooks and a lot of manpower,” Haeffele said.

Haeffele said they are working non-stop to clear the debris before any more potential rain.

He is also reminding people to use caution and avoid driving on flooded streets.

Franklin County Emergency Management Crews are also monitoring the conditions and the forecast.

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