Clearwater coping with floodwaters


The Ninnescah River caused some of the worst problems in South Central Kansas Wednesday, as it continued rising.  Near Clearwater, folks who live along the river say they know flooding and they know when to get out of the water’s way.

“I’ve lived out here for 25 years and I’ve been through probably five floods,” said Rick Sterneker. “So we’re pretty much used to it.”

They’re used to the river overflowing its banks, sending flood waters right up to their front doors.  So, when the rains started and the river rose, they worried.

“We always do when the river gets up like that,” said Randy Joslin.  “it gets kind of scary.”

His neighbor Shawna Perry added, “The people on this side of the cul de sac, over here, they were very worried because they get the water first.  So they’ve been worried for days and days.”

Some in the area stayed and watched and worried as the river rose, hoping the entire time for the best.

“We’ve been watching the ditch here, my neighbor’s back yard over there and the main road out in front,” said Shawna’s husband, Alan Perry.  “Just been marking things with my grandson.”

Others decided to leave before the floodwaters reached their porch.  And it didn’t take long.  As the rain poured down rising waters overran roads, washed out bridges and made the Wednesday morning commute a major headache.

“It was just rushing,” Alan said.  “I could see fish crossing the road and I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do it.’”

Shawna is a bus driver for the local school district.  She says at first they didn’t think she’d be able to make it to work Wednesday morning.

“It took us about 35 minutes but we made it,” she said.  “And then my route was fine. But they did have to cancel about three routes south of town because they just couldn’t make it through.”

She has a warning for other drivers who think they can make it through on flooded roads.

“You just don’t know until you’re in it how scary it really is.  Don’t drive thorough the water.  No matter what you do, don’t even try it.  That’s the worst,” she said.

Several counties dealing with flooding have reported cars and trucks washed off the road.  And the rising rivers and creeks are taking a lot more than just vehicles with them, leaving more mess to be cleaned up once the waters recede.

“All the brush and debris that’s washed around,” Rick said.  “Like by the side of the road, the rock, it’s going to have to be pulled up on to the shoulder.  It’s always just a lot of work.”

Already, some folks in the area are out re-grading some of the dirt roads the floods earlier this week left filled with craters and caverns.  Just how much will have to be done, remains to be seen.  First, the flood waters will have to go down a lot more.

“I walked down through there this morning,” Rick said.  “I didn’t go very far because I found out real quick I didn’t want to be in that.”

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