Kansas City suburb Parkville ready for Missouri River flooding

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 | 12:53 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — Residents and businesses along the Missouri River have been ratcheting up their preparations for possible flooding as the river's historic high water makes its way downstream.

North of Kansas City, Parkville has closed entrances to its riverfront English Landing Park, but businesses in the area remain open.

"The Corps (of Engineers) changes its predictions every day about when to expect the surge," said Gia McFarlane, a spokeswoman for Parkville. "There's a chance some businesses (will) need to evacuate at the high-water projections, but so far all businesses are open."

The Missouri River has been rising for weeks because of heavy rains and snowmelt along the river's headwaters, forcing the Army Corps of Engineers to open floodgates, sending massive amounts of water downstream along the Missouri River system. The National Weather Service forecast the Missouri River to reach about 29 feet at St. Joseph on Wednesday, 11 feet above flood stage.

Further east, the Missouri was forecast for a high this week of 27.6 feet in Boonville by Friday, well above the 21-foot flood stage there.

North of Kansas City, railroads have been working for weeks to protect tracks, to keep coal, consumer goods and other freight moving south, The Kansas City Star reported. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has rerouted coal shipments bound for Kansas City through Colorado and western Kansas because its line from Nebraska was flooded.

Railroad traffic coordinators have rerouted around other flooded rail lines and halted service to some markets, including St. Joseph, for fear of trapping rail cars behind flooded tracks.

"We just don't know how high it's going to get," said Mark Davis, director of Corporate and Media Relations for Union Pacific Corp.'s Northern Region.

For trucking companies, the stretch of Interstate 29 closed by high water north of Rockport has prompted a detour that adds miles to the trip from Kansas City to Omaha. Traffic is being rerouted up Interstate 35 to Interstate 80 near Des Moines and then west to Omaha.

Kansas City Power & Light also has been monitoring floodwater nearing its coal supplies but said it has not had any problems with coal delivery.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management said Kansas Highway 7 north of Sparks in Doniphan County was closed to the Nebraska border because of high water from the Missouri River running over the roadway. The highway was expected to be closed for several days.

In eastern Missouri, along the Mississippi River, which has also seen spiking water levels recently, Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. has closed properties in Caruthersville, Mo., and in Lula, Miss.

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