Parkville officials seek to reassure residents worried about flooding

Parkville residents expressed their concerns about the effects of prolonged flooding in the downtown area, as officials sought to reassure them Wednesday night at a standing-room-only meeting.

While most shops and restaurants in Parkville remain open, owners worried that residents would not have access to downtown businesses for as long as two months once the Missouri River floods. They also expressed concern that if the city needs to close a downtown flood barrier, access to English Landing Centre would be shut off.

Parkville officials assured residents that they planned to give 24 hours notice if they have to close the barrier.

“I would rather be four hours early calling than be five minutes late,” Parkville police Chief Kevin Chrisman said about the decision to close the barrier.

City officials were joined by representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers at the meeting, which addressed flooding specifically in the Parkville area.

Residents’ questions were met with some uncertainty as both corps and city officials said flooding would depend on rainfall in addition to increased water releases from northern dams.

After an especially wet spring, Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota has had to release historic amounts of water into the Missouri River. The peak of 150,000 cubic feet of water per second started Tuesday and is expected to continue at least through mid-July. The corps was originally expecting flood crests to hit the Kansas City area within four days, but that has been delayed because of levee breaches further upstream.

Developments along the river: Levasy:

Volunteers and 25 jail inmates in a work-release program are preparing sandbags in Levasy starting at 9 a.m. today. Those interested in volunteering can call 816-806-9559.

The river is projected to reach 25 to 27 feet, but could go as high as 33 feet, said Mike Curry, emergency preparedness director for Jackson County. Water could come over the levee at 30 feet.

Curry said the county may suggest evacuation to residents, but ultimately leaves the decision to them.

City Clerk Carla Gibson said residents have learned what to do when the river reaches flood stages, and right now it’s a “wait and see game.”

“You don’t move out just because of potential,” Gibson said. “When it happens then you have to do something. You prepare, but you don’t act in crisis mode 24/7 until you absolutely have to.”

St. Joseph:

Voluntary evacuations could start as soon as Sunday in the St. Joseph area. The river elevation was hovering near 23 feet Wednesday, and was projected to hit 25 feet Sunday night, public works director J. Bruce Woody said.

An area to the north has been set to voluntarily evacuate at Sunday’s level; the evacuation would become mandatory at 27 feet. The area includes a few businesses and about 10 residences.

The people in the southwest corner of town also may be told to evacuate. The National Weather Service and the Army Corps have set the flood range in this area between 27 and 32 feet.

“When it gets north of 30 our anxieties rise,” Woody said.

Atchison County, Mo.:

Interstate 29 in northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa closed Wednesday afternoon.

Northbound lanes closed at Exit 110, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation. Traffic was being diverted onto U.S. 136, which crosses the Missouri just west of Rock Port.

In Iowa, the southbound lanes of I-29 closed at Exit 10. Officials recommended drivers from the Kansas City area use Interstate 35 to travel through Iowa.