On Aug. 22, the city of Harrisonville said it received between 7 to 8 inches of rain in the span of a few hours. The flash floods caused water to seep into homes and businesses, and it overwhelmed Lake Luna in City Park so much that the city asked families living downstream to evacuate their homes.
The police department had said that day in the Facebook post that there was a “strong possibility” that the dam would break.
But city employees from the public works department and parks and recreation department were faced with repairing a damaged spillway.
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Parks Director Chris Deal and the city’s emergency services director, Eric Myler, did not have an exact estimate on how much it cost the city to repair the spillway at the lower lake dam, but Deal said it roughly cost the city “thousands of dollars” in materials, including sandbags, cement and bentonite.
The city said it finished its repairs to the spillway on Sept. 6.
Deal said on the day of the flooding, Aug. 22, the rush of water came so quickly that it went underneath part of the spillway and broke up concrete. Following the rainfall, Deal said broken concrete was removed, the city drained the lake to a safe water level and filled in cement to reinforce the existing spillway. The city also used bags of bentonite mixed with clay to patch to stop the leaks.
Deal said he believes the spillways at the lakes in City Park are more than 85 years old, and it’s not the first time the spillways have needed maintenance.
“It’s deteriorated, and it’s something we’ll just have to identify in the future as to total replacement, but for now, it’s been repaired and it will have to be continued to be repaired for many years,” Deal said.
In an email responding to questions about the lower lake spillway, Myler said it could cost “up to $3 million” to permanently repair.
During a Aug. 29 town hall the city organized to address the flooding issues, some residents wondered if the city was prepared to deal with another flash flooding situation if it were to happen again.
Part of the spillway broke off, causing a rush of water to flood the park on the morning of Aug. 22. Police said at least 20 homes were evacuated. Crews were able to avoid a potential crisis after redirecting the water flow, but are the city’s lakes prepared for the next rain storm? Deal said he believes the answer to that is “yes.”
“Anything can happen with a large amount of rain,” Deal said. “The steps we’ve taken to repair the spillway, I believe, have been successful, and Lake Luna has been drained down pretty far. The next heavy rain storm, it’s going to take a bit to get that lake back up to where it was.”
Meanwhile, Harrisonville residents in homes affected by the recent flooding have been taking matters into their own hands.
A GoFundMe account was created Sept. 7 to raise money for families whose homes and personal property were damaged by the flood waters on July 27 and Aug. 22. As of Sept. 8, the campaign had raised $70 of its $5,000 goal.
Residents of Walker Drive have also organized a flood relief fundraising event, which is scheduled 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 16 at Show Me Auto Mall at 1901 N. Missouri 291 in Harrisonville. The event will feature a barbecue lunch, a silent auction, music and family-friendly games and activities.
County: ‘Still waiting on the state’ for help
Two days after August floods, Cass County declared a local emergency. The county’s declaration was made as a prelude to a request for federal assistance. The county’s preliminary damage assessments were turned in to Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).
As of Sept. 7, Cass County Emergency Management Director Stan Swaggart said they’re still “waiting on the state” to determine if it can declare a disaster.
According to figures provided by Swaggart, Cass County estimated that it lost about $1,125,000 in damages from the August flash flooding.
The county emergency management director also provided the following damage assessments submitted to SEMA. The assessments are broken down by category, and include estimates submitted from municipalities and townships to the county emergency management agency:
▪ Debris removal: $21,500
▪ Emergency protective measures: $55,000
▪ Roads and bridges: $2,885,700
▪ Water control facilities: $6,500,000
▪ Public buildings and equipment: $35,000
▪ Public utilities: $0
▪ Parks and recreation facilities: $25,000