Arkansas River closed until further notice, City of Wichita says

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The City of Wichita says the Arkansas River is closed due to high water and debris that have led to dangerous water conditions. 

The city make the announcement on Twitter just after 4:30 p.m. Thursday, mere hours before the start of Wichita's annual River Festival. 

Wichita officials are working Riverfest organizers and say they'll let the community know when river activities are once again safe. 

Teri Mott, Riverfest communication coordinator, says there is a Riverfest 2019 app available to download to keep you updated on all of the current conditions of river safety starting this Friday. 


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Riverfest organizers are remaining optimistic about the status of the week-long festival and Teri Mott, the communications coordinator says the unfortunate weather is just the nature of the festival business.  

"You never know what's going to happen. You may have beautiful weather, you may have terrible weather, you may have it both in the same day, so no, i'm happy to say we haven't had any cancellations, we haven't had any folks that have decided not to attend or participate," Mott said. 

According to weather experts, this may is the second wettest may in Kansas history and currently, the Arkansas river is flowing at about 11,700 cubic feet per second. 

With Riverfest starting on Friday, Mott hopes the rain will subside, but she says no matter what, the activities will continue. 

"You know it will be disappointing if we have a ton of bad weather, but we just don't see it that way. We just work forward. It is a rain or shine event and something else that you know, even if we do get rain, we've got some rain proof events, such as the ones inside," Mott said. 

Riverfest organizers work with the city to make safety calls and no decisions will be made until Friday morning.

And even though water activities might be postponed, every morning during river fest, the city of Wichita tests the water to make sure it's safe for you and your families. 

 "Generally when there's high flows like this, it is accompanied with debris. Sometimes it's really big debris," said Jim Hardesty, Wichita Public Works District Manager, "it's going to take it a while for it to come down. Probably about a week, because the ark river up by Hutchinson is really full." 

Mott says there is a Riverfest 2019 app available to download to keep you updated on all of the current conditions of river safety starting this Friday. 

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