Cow Creek in Reno County hits record flood level

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flooding in Reno County - October 2018 flooding in Reno County - October 2018
RENO COUNTY, Kan. (KAKE) -

Flooding in Reno County is setting new records.  And the water is expected to remain high through the weekend, at least.  The rising water caught many residents by surprise Thursday morning.

“I haven’t seen water get this bad, not flood up clear 56 to the dike.  There’s… it… no… this is insane,” Erin Cota said Thursday morning.  

He says he checked outside his home the night before and the water was still about 20 feet from his property line.  But when he woke up Thursday morning the water had risen so far it had trapped his family in their home.  The Cotas had to call for help.

“It was waist deep.  I mean one of the firefighters fell in.  He was down…up to his waders,” Erin said.  “It’s pretty deep.  Don’t go through it for damned sure.”

Flooding leads to several water rescues in Reno County

“It is dangerous,” agreed Sgt. Rick Newton with the Reno County Sheriff’s Office.  He, too , warns of the dangers of driving through flooded roads.  “It not only puts their life in danger but puts all the rescue personnel in danger, too.”

Deputies have helped the fire department respond to multiple water rescues over the last 24 hours, including four on Thursday evening.

“People that have gone around barricades or ignored the road closed signs and have been either stalled in the roadway or washed off the roadway,” Sgt. Newton said.  “The first water rescue we did was done by a sheriff’s deputy…he was able to wade out in the water up to his waist basically and get the person out of the vehicle.”

Erin and his wife, Kathrine, were ready to drive their animals out when the flood waters surrounded their home.  They changed their minds.

“I had the horses and everything loaded up and there was no getting out. It was up past the wheel wells, right by the house,” Erin said.  “There was no way.”

Anyone who decides to ignore ‘Road Closed’ signs faces a hefty ticket if a sheriff’s deputy sees them.

“It’s a $183 ticket,” said Sgt. Newton.  “We will write those left and right if people want to continue driving around the barricades.”

A big part of the concern is the unpredictability of flooding combined with the record levels.

“I haven’t seen water get this bad, not flood up clear 56 to the dike.  There’s… it… no… this is insane,” Erin said.

“There was a lot of us trying to figure out how to get our animals off the property,” Kathrine Cota said.  “But that didn’t work out because it’s now a river down there.”

Reno County Emergency Management says at this point evacuations are for emergencies.  Anyone already evacuated will be out of their home for several days.  Folks who are still in their homes will likely have to stay there until the water goes down.

“This flooding event is going to continue on into Sunday, for sure,” said Todd Strain with the Emergency Management office.  “Probably on into Monday or Tuesday.  Just depends on what the depth of the water may be.”

He says the Cow Creek will likely crest at least a couple of times before the end of the weekend.

“We’re in it for the long ride. It’s going to be some of this,” he said, raising his hand up and down.  “Going up and down quite a bit.”

The creek has already set a new record for flood levels, reaching 12.9 feet and climbing.

“It’s a big event as far as a lot of water coming through,” Strain added.  “That we haven’t seen in a little over ten years.”

“We didn’t think that it was going to happen this quick,” Erin said.  “I was going to have everything out by today because we knew this rain was going to come in this weekend.  But I didn’t… I didn’t think it was going to be this high.”

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