Monday, July 4, 2011

A Mighty River


Today, Keith drove us up to Elwood, a little town in Doniphan County, up in the far northeast corner of Kansas.  This little town flooded badly in 1993, and is set to do it again this year, I'm afraid. 

It really brought home to me what Keith has been doing these last few weeks, and how countless others are preparing for the contingencies.

We took pictures.

On the way up, I took a picture of this beautiful limestone house in Lowemont, in Leavenworth County. This house has a fascinating history. A man owned the ferry and outfitters at the river in Leavenworth.  He would sell goods to settlers coming through, and when they got across the county at Lowemont and were moving uphill, they needed to lighten their loads.  He would take back goods at this location, and then re-sell them at the river.  The building still stands and is actually lived in. 

Then we stopped at Atchison briefly, to eat lunch... but the restaurant we wanted to eat at was closed for the holiday.  It is right at the riverbank, so that could be the other reason!

Here is the view from Atchison's beautiful Riverfront park.  Here is what is behind my back:
As you see, everyone was coming past the police barricades to see the river.  That is the restaurant behind us where we would like to have eaten. 
Then we got back in the car and went up to Elwood.
Here is the command center:
It is the fire department. As you can see, the parking lot was full of cars from the Sheriff's office, the Highway Patrol, the Northeast Kansas Incident Management Team Trailer, (a self-contained office where disasters can be managed from), private vehicles, and Army humvees.  The National Guard is providing 36 soldiers who are not only providing security for the businesses (there is a very large business park in this small town) but also for the residents who have already evacuated.  They are also patrolling the saturated levee 24 hours a day.
Here are sandbags at Rosecrans Airfield.  This is the airfield for St. Joseph, Missouri, which is just across the swollen river, and for the Air National Guard.

I have to tell you, I have never seen sandbags close up, and there were blocks and blocks and blocks of them.  All the planes have been moved from the airfield, which is right next to Elwood. Just past the field behind these sandbags was the levee... it also has thousands of sandbags on top of it, put there by civilian volunteers under direction of the authorities.  We could not get close enough to get a picture of them, but I could see them.
In tiny little Elwood itself, people were cutting grass and cooking out for the holiday, but Keith said almost everyone has moved their belongings out, and are "camping out" in their homes, ready to flee at any time. Think what that does to you!

This corn is growing in the city limits of Elwood, and will be lost if it floods.  All the corn in the counties up there looks great.  These are the glacial hills of Kansas, and for those of you who think Kansas is flat.... whew.... it is some of the most beautiful terrain.
Here is a picture we took (KEITH took, I could not stand on the edge of the precipice) from the bluff at Benedictine College.  More about that tomorrow, but here is one of the pictures showing the river down below in it's channel, and the flooded farmland to the east.

Double-click to make the picture bigger to see the river.
And I leave you for tonight with a picture of the sign at the Brickhouse Restaurant in Elwood, at the foot of the Highway 36 bridge, which so far is still open to St. Joe:
Read the sign

When the river gets that high, they'll be outa there

Our neighbors Troy and Kathy have the family over, and we are going to sit on the deck at dusk and watch their fireworks to end our Fourth of July long weekend.  We hope all of you had a peaceful, happy time with your families and friends. 


  1. I love-love-love the old limestone buildings in Kansas, and I LOVE the Flinthills. We lived in them outside of Manhattan when Rick was in vet school. It was fun to tell people our fall colors were in our tall-grass prairie. :-)

  2. The rivers do a lot of damage when they jump their banks.

  3. Looks like a lovely trip, thanks for sharing!

  4. The floods sure are scary. Soo many people live in flood plains and learn to know what to do. It would break my heart to have to evacuate when you were told a flood was on the way.

    Sounds like you had a nice 4th though.


  5. I am assuming it is near the Missouri river? We are struggling with the same here in NE and are sending all we can your way - sorry.

  6. So so sad about the flooding...
    Love that last picture- at least they have a sense of humor!


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