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Heavy rains north of Wichita trigger flooding

VIDEO: Arkansas River rising after heavy rains

Overnight rains swell the Arkansas River north of Wichita. (Mike Hutmacher, The Wichita Eagle)
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Overnight rains swell the Arkansas River north of Wichita. (Mike Hutmacher, The Wichita Eagle)

Flood warnings remained for some parts of the Wichita area Tuesday after torrential rains caused flooding north of Wichita early Monday.

Radar indicated as much as 7 inches of rain fell in parts of northern Sedgwick County and in Harvey County, according to the National Weather Service.

A flood warning for Cowskin Creek in Wichita was in effect Tuesday. The creek was expected to crest Tuesday morning and won’t fall until at least Wednesday morning, officials said.

There also was a flood warning for the Little Arkansas River near Sedgwick, which was expected to crest Tuesday morning before falling below flood stage later in the day.

Flood warnings also continue for the Cottonwood River near Florence in Chase County.

On Monday, there were numerous flood warnings issued for all or parts of Sedgwick, Chase, Marion and Harvey counties.

No injuries were reported in connection with the flooding, although emergency responders searched for a teen who drove into high water in northern Sedgwick County and became stranded, according to an emergency dispatcher. They were not sure of her location because she called her mother, who then called 911.

She was eventually found safe in Harvey County, where widespread road flooding was reported.

“We’ve got a lot of flooding, and I mean a lot,” Lon Buller, emergency management director for Harvey County, said Monday morning. “We’re running ragged” trying to get barricades up for roads closed by water.

“Just throw a dart” and chances are that road is underwater, he said.

Buller said motorists should not drive around barricades. Those who do and get stranded in the water face getting ticketed, he said.

Preliminary reports indicated more than 5 inches of rain fell near Sedgwick and nearly 4 inches fell at Valley Center. About 4.5 inches fell in Newton, said Mike Urban, a meteorologist for the weather service. More than 5 inches of rain was reported in Colwich, just northwest of Wichita.

Wichita dodged those torrential rains, recording only a trace of precipitation overnight. But the National Weather Service still issued a flood warning for the Cowskin Creek in west Wichita through Wednesday morning.

At 7:30 a.m. Monday, the creek was at 9.9 feet. Flood stage is 18 feet, and the creek was projected to rise to near 19 feet by Tuesday morning.

Stew Bichet, whose family owns a farm near Hillsboro bisected by the Cottonwood River, said he will keep an eye on the river.

“We’ve still got flood marks on the barn from ’51,” he said.

Every road south out of Peabody was blocked by water Monday morning, he said, and campgrounds at Harvey County East Lake were inundated.

“It’s pretty messy up here,” Bichet said, adding he was disappointed about not being able to get his camper to the lake this weekend until he saw the flooded grounds on Monday.

As he traveled the region on Monday, “I saw some water in some spots you don’t usually see it,” he said.

Bichet logged 4 inches of rain at his house in Hillsboro.

“It came down good and hard,” he said. “We needed it, but enough is enough.”

Residents of Valley Center were shooting photos and video Monday morning as floodwaters turned Emporia Street into a canal.

“Nobody can ever remember it being that bad,” said a resident who didn’t want to give her name.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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