Residents allowed back to flooded homes

COFFEYVILLE, Kan. | Flooded homeowner Catherine Murray does not plan to be among the hundreds of residents who will return Wednesday to salvage their remaining possessions and their homes.

The 79-year-old woman said she cannot afford to buy two pairs of protective rubber boots, so she will stay at a shelter while her son checks Wednesday on her cherished family possessions: the homemade cedar chest, the photo of her as a baby in the antique frame, a treasured quilt.

“If he can get in, I will buy him a pair of rubber boots,” she said as she waited before a town hall meeting Tuesday night.

Murray was among the hundreds gathered at the meeting to hear the news. City Manager Jeffrey Morris was greeted by thundering applause when he told residents they would be allowed home at 10 a.m. Wednesday. A curfew will be in place in flood zones from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

“When you go into your residence, I can’t prepare you enough for what some of you will see,” said Mayor Virgil Horn, whose own home was flooded.

For many residents it will be the first time they will be allowed back since evacuations began June 30 as the rain-swollen Verdigris River topped its banks. About a quarter of the city was flooded when record high floodwater topped the 26.5-foot levees protecting eastern Coffeyville before the river crested at more than 30 feet.