Cowley County Officials Closely Watching River Levels

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Friday, August 8, 2013

As rivers in Cowley County continue to rise, so do the concerns of residents.

Cowley County Emergency Management officials do not expect major flooding along the Arkansas River or the Walnut River, but they are keeping a close eye on both.

"We've had some minor flooding so far, mainly in the Ark City area around the Arkansas River," Cowley County Emergency Management Assistant Coordinator John Stradal said.

With the Arkansas River already three feet above flood stage and predicted to rise at least another foot by Friday night, Cowley County Emergency Management is constantly watching for any changes.

For right now, the river is not expected to test Arkansas City's levy.

"At this time, it looks like things are going to stay below that level," Stradal said. "We certainly encourage people to stay abreast of conditions and just be aware of their surroundings."

The rising waters of the Walnut River have already forced some changes in Winfield.

Organizers of the Walnut Valley festival have pushed early line-up for festival campers back one week, from Aug. 22 to Aug. 29 in order to give the fairgrounds time to dry out.

"We've had to pull a lot of vehicles out before in the past and it's not really a lot of fun," festival organizer Rex Flottman said.

Flottman and other festival organizers have worked around the weather before, most recently in 2008 when campers had to be moved from the fairgrounds to the Winfield City Lake due to flooding.

"We almost always have at least a day of rain during the four days of the festival and then it usually gets hot for a day or two, so they bring everything they own to wear," Flottman said.

Stradal said water levels in Cowley County should fall before they reach the level that caused major flooding in 1998. During that flood, the Walnut River came close to topping Winfield's levy and it breached the levy at Ark City.

"We're not anticipating anything even remotely close to that," Stradal said.

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