Risk of flooding in Kansas higher now through June
Gardenway Apartment, Manhattan, flooded after overnight thunderstorms June 2, 2011. More than 100 homes were damaged and more than 300 people had to be evacuated from their homes in Manhattan. COURTESY PHOTO
Story by: Pamela Redford
1ST INF. DIV. POST
The most common natural disaster is not a tornado, hail, hurricane, tsunami or even an earthquake.
It's a flood, and it can happen anywhere at any time, according to Ward Philips, chief, Plans and Emergency Management and Ready Army spokesperson, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.
Now through the end of June, the risk of flooding is higher because of the probability of severe weather in Kansas. But that's no reason for alarm, according to Philips, who said dam failure and flash flooding that could affect Fort Riley is unlikely.
Even so, not all floods are the same. Some can take days to develop, and some, like a flash flood from a heavy downpour, levee breach or dam failure, take just a few hours to rain destruction. This force of nature can affect a small neighborhood, a whole city or an entire state.
When floods develop, the waters can be deeper and stronger than they appear at first glance. Debris, rocks and mud are carried by flood waters as they rush into homes, businesses and vehicles. The aftermath can be devastating.
Fortunately, the Army has an active campaign at Fort Riley to empower Soldiers, Families and Army civilians to prepare for hazards – Ready Army. By encouraging Families to "get a kit, make a plan and be informed" – the slogan of the campaign – Philips and his staff are seeking to build readiness in the population should a flood or other severe weather event affect the post.
Philips recalled the Great Flood of 1993, when he was a first lieutenant at Fort Riley. He and other Soldiers helped fill sandbags and ran the shelter at King Field House for Soldiers and Family members who had to leave their homes as the flood waters rose.
Although the water eventually receded, flooding has come again to the Central Flint Hills Region – very recently.
Flooding in Manhattan and Ogden on June 16, 2010, resulted in no injuries or fatalities, but more than 60 homes were damaged. Forty Soldiers and their Families were temporarily displaced, and Fort Riley sheltered four Families on the installation.
On June 2, 2011, overnight thunderstorms resulted in flooding in Manhattan and Ogden yet again. Evergreen Apartments, Redbud Estates, Fairman Housing Area and Scenic Drive in Manhattan flooded and were evacuated.
More than 100 homes were damaged and more than 300 people had to be evacuated from their homes in Manhattan. Thirty-nine Soldiers and Families were temporarily displaced, and seven Soldiers and their Families were sheltered at Fort Riley.
Although there were no injuries or fatalities in either of these floods, Philips said it's still important to play it safe and be prepared for the worst. If there is flooding this year, shelters will be available at Fort Riley and in Riley County as well, he said.
"The best thing to do in the event of a flood is to stay tuned in to a weather radio and local weather reports on television," Philips said.
The free AtHoc text messaging system provided by Fort Riley delivers up-to-date weather information within seconds. Also important, Philips said, is to not drive through standing water.
"You don't know how deep it is, and you could end up stalling out the vehicle, breaking the fan blade and tearing up the radiator," he said.
To learn more about how to prepare for an emergency like severe thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, floods and lightning, visit www.ready.gov/floods, www.riley.army.mil/UnitPage.aspx?unit=ReadyArmy or www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy. To sign up for AtHoc severe weather notifications, visit www.riley.army.mil/documents/DPTMS.FROCDocuments/110504111831.pdf.