Gov. Kelly Issues State of Disaster Declaration; State Emergency Operations Center Opens

In response to widespread torrential rainfall, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka at approximately 9 p.m. May 8 to monitor flooding and provide assistance to local jurisdictions, as requested.

Governor Laura Kelly issue a state of disaster emergency declaration this morning due to severe storms and flooding for the following counties: Barber, Chase, Clark, Cowley, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Marion, Meade, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Reno, Rice, Sumner. The state declaration may be amended to include any additional counties that experience flooding. The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties that meet certain criteria.

“I want to urge people to avoid playing in or around a flooded stream,” said Kelly. “There may be dangerous floating debris, hidden underwater obstacles, and treacherous currents. Please don’t try to launch a boat or swim in the water. Even fishing or walking along the bank can be dangerous because the bank may be slippery or easily collapse. Flood waters demand our utmost respect.”

The SEOC received a request for sandbags to support flood fighting operations in Chase County. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing these sandbags and coordinating with local officials.

KDEM deployed a regional coordinator to Chase County to work with local emergency management.

There are currently river gauges in major and moderate flooding stage with the majority in southcentral and southeast Kansas.

Road closures have been reported in Atchison, Clay, Chase, Cowley, Doniphan, Harvey, Leavenworth, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Osage, Reno, Rice, Saline, and Sumner County. Within Sumner County, I-35 northbound is currently closed between South Haven and Wellington with an anticipated reopening later this evening.

Local disaster declarations have been issued in Barber, Chase, Clark, Cowley, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Marion, Meade, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Reno, Rice, Sumner and Wilson Counties.

The SEOC will remain activated throughout today and continue to monitor flood forecasting to determine support needs.

Because people underestimate the force and power of water, KDEM is reminding the public to avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm-related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. Even 18 inches of water is sufficient to float a vehicle and it only takes six inches of fast-moving flood water to knock an adult off his feet. Turn around don’t drown.