Within just a few hours early Thursday morning, heavy rains closed roads and flooded several homes and businesses. Now, some say it will take weeks to clean up the aftermath of what some described as catastrophic flooding throughout the Kansas City area, including Cass County.
Employees and customers at Trade Fair Mall said Friday they had never experienced anything like the flooding that hit Cass County on Thursday. The family-owned business lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods and equipment due to the flash flooding. The National Weather Service for Kansas City reported precipitation totals of 5 to 7 inches of rain across parts of the metro.
Lani Cook, and her husband, Tom, own Trade Fair Mall, and have run the business for 11 years. The popular shopping spot, located on South Commercial Street in Harrisonville, has nearly 40,000 square feet of antiques, collectibles, furniture, clothing and various items sold by more than 200 vendors.
An adjacent shop displays hundreds of autographed photos, jerseys, helmets, baseball bats, footballs and various items signed by famous athletes, including Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali, as well as current and former Kansas City Royals and Chiefs players, like Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez.
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The building also has open space and a kitchen for wedding receptions. Lani Cook estimates that she and her husband lost about a million dollars worth of sports collectibles and equipment, and flood insurance they have on the building won’t cover the damage, she said.
On Friday afternoon, more than a dozen people were with the Cooks on site, salvaging what they could and filling dumpsters with items too heavily damaged by the muddy waters. Many of those helping the Cook family with the clean-up have been there since 6 a.m. Thursday morning.
“This wiped everything from one building to the other like a tidal wave,” Lani Cook said, pointing to walls pushed inward by the force of the floods, a small building that had been knocked sideways and sheds that ended up in a ditch.
Inches of rain from Thursday’s storm had turned into 3 to 5 feet of water at Trade Fair Mall, Cook said. Signs placed around the parking lot say the Trade Fair is temporarily closed “due to flooding and clean-up efforts.”
Cook is heartbroken over the damage and loss, but expressed thankfulness for volunteers helping with the clean-up and hope that Trade Fair Mall will open again soon. Trade Fair Mall said it plans on posting updates of the clean-up on its Facebook page.
“We’re going to open; we’re working hard. We have crews in there tearing walls out, floors out. Hopefully in two to three weeks we can re-open. This is our life. This is our family,” Cook said.
Bill Sanders owns Missouri SignWorks, just down the street from Trade Fair Mall, and has known the Cooks for a few years. Sanders took action when he saw the business overwhelmed by the flooding, helping the owners push water out with a squeegee for at least 10 hours. On Friday, Sanders spoke outside with would-be customers, letting them know that the business was closed for the time being.
Sanders, who lives in rural Cass County, said he personally dealt with some flooding issues at his own home Thursday, but described the extent of the damage at Trade Fair Mall as “catastrophic.” He said he plans on helping the Cook family with clean-up as needed.
“It’s really hard to comprehend it all. Really knowing where their heart and soul is, it’s just really hard,” Sanders said.
Mary Coburn drove up to Trade Fair Mall Friday afternoon with a family member in hopes of picking up a birthday gift for another family member, but when she arrived, Coburn was told the business was closed. She said she was shocked to see the aftermath of the flooding.
“My family has come here and grew up here with the Trade Fair...We came here to pick up and item and we were surprised to see this. I feel sorry for the people here who are losing money,” Coburn said. “There are people who really got it bad, and I am so sorry for them. That’s their life.”
Other businesses in Cass County reported damage as a result of the flooding. Across from Trade Fair Mall, the Harrisonville Police Department said rising waters also caused significant damage at Comfort Inn. Elsewhere in the county, Kansas City media reported Thursday’s rains caused the roof of Taco Bueno in Belton to collapse and caused flooding at the library in downtown Archie.
Law enforcement officials and firefighters received numerous calls for water over the roads and people trapped in their homes due to the massive flooding.
By Thursday afternoon, firefighters from the Dolan-West Dolan Fire Protection District were called out to Lake Annette for multiple water rescues. A fire department spokesman said firefighters were helping at least 20 people stuck in their homes affected by the flooding. No injuries were reported as a result. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office was also called to the scene.
The water rescue at Lake Annette was one of “hundreds” of calls the Cass County Sheriff’s Office said it received for flooding Thursday. A sheriff’s office spokesman said the flooding resulted in several closed roads in rural Cass County, but by the afternoon, authorities said no injuries and no major property damage had been reported.