PRATT — Torrential rains Monday dumped from six to over eight inches of rain across Pratt County in south-central Kansas, causing heavy flooding on the Ninnescah River and pushing water over the banks and causing numerous road closures especially in the Pratt area.
Parks and the Pratt County Veteran’s Memorial Lake were filled to overflowing. Several families in low-lying areas had to be rescued, The Pratt Tribune reported.
The usually placid Ninnescah River turned into a rampaging giant Monday, and flood waters caused highway and street closings on the south side of Pratt, due to six or more inches of rain that fell on much of the county overnight.
Roads on the south side of Pratt were closed as far east as 60th Avenue and more than 30 miles to the west of Pratt, according to Pratt County Sheriff’s Lt. Cole Schmidtberger.
“We’ve been busy since 6 a.m. barricading roads, rerouting traffic and helping people prepare to evacuate if necessary,” Schmidtberger said.
Water drained into the Ninnescah River and it breached its banks quickly, flowing out into parks, streets and backyards in city limits.
At Country Estates Mobile Home and RV Park, resident Tabitha Hemphill said there was no water at 8 a.m. but just 15 minutes later, water was coming across her yard. Water had not reached her house but she was keeping a close eye on the water in case she had to evacuate.
Other residents were not so lucky. High clearance vehicles and a boat were brought in to rescue them from the fast rising waters, said Tim Branscom, Pratt County Emergency Manager.
On the west side of Pratt, water exploded out of its banks along West River Road and residents were alerted to be prepared to evacuate. In several places in the county, the river got out of its banks so wide that it was flooding on both sides of bridges but didn’t go over the bridges themselves.
Emergency responders knocked on several doors across the flood area and recommended that occupants evacuate.
Rescue workers also responded to the Waldeck area to rescue a stranded man in the water about a mile north of U.S. 54 at NE 70th Avenue. He was safely rescued from the water.
Flooding waters caused several roads to close including County Club Road, West River Road, Mound Street north of the railroad tracks, Simpson Street, SE 25th Avenue by Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and U.S. 281 on the south side of Pratt.
The heavy rainfall covered about three quarters of the county and although he had not had time to get out and inspect all the roads, Branscom said he expected many county roads to be flooded and damaged. He would not be sure until the water receded and he could get a visual on the bridges. He cautioned everyone to not drive through water over roads.
Flood water completely covered Pratt County Veteran’s Memorial Lake. Water went over the roads, piers, the island and completely filled the Ninnesah River on the north side of the lake. It spread out for hundreds of feet to the north, south and east sides of the lake to a point that only the tops of the pier shelters were visible, Branscom said.
Although he couldn’t see the dam at the east end of the lake, Branscom said he would not be surprised if water had gone over the top of the dam. A survey of the dam at 2 p.m. Monday revealed the dam was in good shape.
“There are no concerns about the dam at this time,” Branscom said.
Water surrounded the city water treatment plant but there was no problem or damage to the facility.
The Green Nature Trail was completely covered by flood water. Ralph Lanterman said he was able to get some equipment off the trail site but the water was rising rapidly as he worked.
All of the major roads in Pratt County were open by 11 a.m. Tuesday, except the road going to the county lake, Pratt County Emergency Management said in a social media post.
More rain was projected Tuesday in the county.
As of Monday afternoon, there were no reports of injury from the flood. Property damage reports have not been made available.
Many emergency services were involved in rescuing flood victims, manning the barricades and controlling traffic, inccluding Pratt City Police, Pratt County Sheriff ’s Office, City Fire, County Fire and Emergency Services, Township Fire Departments, Kansas Highway Patrol, American Red Cross, Emergency Management, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Kansas Department of Transportation, County Road, City Road and the public works departments.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism operations office in Pratt is closed Tuesday, September 4, 2018, due to flooding. The office will remain closed until further notice, the agency said. It is located on S.E 25th Avenue about one mile east of Pratt, along the Ninnescah River.
As of late Monday afternoon, portions of the lower level of the building had up to three inches of standing water. In addition, the sewer and water supply for the building may have been compromised.
Customers can obtain licenses and permits and state park reservations online at ksoutdoors.com. Other KDWPT regional and district offices will also be open for business to help with questions. To locate a KDWPT office, go to https://ksoutdoors.com/KDWPT-Info/Locations.