BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. — Baxter Springs Mayor Randy Trease spent part of today driving around Cherokee County wondering how bad the flooding could get.
Trease said that if the Spring River crests at 37.5 feet, as predicted by the National Weather Service station in Springfield, it would close U.S. Highway 166. That crest is 7.5 feet higher than the Spring River flood of 2007.
“It’s kind of a wait-and-see game,” Trease said. The forecast is for the river to crest on Tuesday morning and drop below flood level on Thursday.
Trease said some residents in the northeast part of the city closest to the river, on Sixth, Seventh and Eighth streets, voluntarily evacuated. He didn’t have an estimate of how many people have left.
Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves said emergency workers began contact about 200 Cherokee County residents on Saturday afternoon to alert them possibly being flooded.
“We don't have a hard count on the number of people who have voluntarily left their homes,” Groves said. “There have been no mandatory evacuations. It’s all voluntary, primarily in areas of Baxter Springs near Spring River, as well as along Shoal Creek and the Riverton, Rest-A-While, and Lowell areas.”
Jason Allison, the emergency management director for Cherokee County, said no flood-related injuries had been reported as of Sunday afternoon, although there were at least four reports of vehicles stranded by high water.
Groves also said that Kansas Highway 7 north of Columbus was closed for a while Saturday night but re-opened earlier today.
“There are not currently any major highways closed in Cherokee County, but numerous secondary roads have flooded,” Groves said.
“Law enforcement will increase patrols in the impacted area throughout the night,” he added.
The county opened emergency shelters at Baxter Springs High School and Riverton High School but closed the one at Riverton.
Red Cross volunteer Marsha Ogle said no one was at the shelter at Baxter Springs on Sunday afternoon.