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Kansas Governor Declares State of Disaster Emergency Due to Flooding


Over 300 People Evacuated from Flooded Kansas College Town, Governor Declares Disaster in Five Counties

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Heavy rain caused a creek to burst its banks and flood the Kansas college town of Manhattan, forcing more than 300 people to evacuate their homes, including some who were ferried to dry land in boats.  Nearly 9 inches of rain fell from Sunday night into Monday. Kansas State University's main campus in Manhattan wasn't flooded, but a help center has been set up for displaced students. Photographs posted on Facebook by the Riley County Police Department show buildings flooded nearly to their roofs.  Only minor injuries have been reported, said Hali Rowland, a police spokeswoman. She said the number of power outages has dropped from 3,000 to fewer than 200 as of Tuesday. Crews are assessing the damage but no official count has been released of inundated buildings.

Governor Jeff Colyer has declared a state of disaster emergency for five Kansas counties affected by flooding over the weekend. Named in the declaration are Riley, Jewell and Marshall counties, in the northeastern part of the state, and Kingman and Pratt counties in south-central Kansas.  Damages in these counties includes washed out roads, bridges, culverts and flooding to some businesses and residential properties.  The state declaration could be amended to include additional counties, as more damage assessments are conducted. The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery efforts in the affected counties.  

Kirstin Pounds said she awoke around 7 am Monday to the sound of trickling water in her ground floor apartment on the west side of Manhattan. She said there was water on her floor and her truck was already halfway underwater.  "I got out with the clothes on my back, my phone, my computer and my dog," Pounds said.  She and her dog were among 50 people and 20 pets rescued from the apartment complex, the Manhattan Mercury reports.  Pat Collins, the director of Riley County Emergency Management, told The Kansas City Star that at least 20 people were rescued from their flooded homes by boat.  "It was one of the most significant events that we've experienced in my history here," Manhattan city manager Ron Fehr said at news conference Monday. "Things got flooded this time that have never been flooded before, even some of the rural areas."

Another 1 to 2 inches is forecast for the area through Thursday, and a flood watch is in effect through 7 pm Tuesday, says Brandon Drake, a National Weather Service meteorologist. He said the creek has receded.  Two emergency shelters were established.  Damage assessment teams from the police, fire and codes department, along with Westar Energy, had already been dispatched throughout the area.  "Really it is our highest priority to make sure things are safe," Fehr said.

Manhattan and the surrounding area remain under a FLASH FLOOD WATCH through midday Wednesday.


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