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Engorged Missouri River continues to wreak havoc

Saturday, July 2, 2011 | 7:17 p.m. CDT; updated 1:32 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 5, 2011

KANSAS CITY — The engorged Missouri River continues to disrupt everything from travel to summer events and soak farmlands filled with once-lush crops.

The Kansas City Star reported that several roads have been closed in northeast Kansas, including stretches of Kansas 7 in Doniphan County, Kansas 5 in Leavenworth County and U.S. 59 in Atchison County. The Kansas Department of Transportation is warning drivers not to attempt to drive through water-covered roadways.

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Amtrak also says flooding along the Missouri River has forced it to suspend one of its two daily round trips between St. Louis and Kansas City. Union Pacific Railroad freight trains are being diverted from flooded tracks onto the Union Pacific route used by the Missouri River Runner. Amtrak routes elsewhere also have been disrupted by the flooding.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported the Amelia Earhart Festival had to be relocated from riverfront in Atchison, Kan. Events set for July 16 had to be moved to Warnock Lake.

And a Missouri River advocacy group that had to cancel a paddling race fundraiser planned for Saturday is making plans to clear the banks after the flooding recedes.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported that Missouri River Relief is working to secure a barge that would store trash for volunteers as they move from Kansas City to St. Louis cleaning up debris deposited by the floodwaters. The September and October cleanup would be the largest endeavor yet for the 10-year-old organization, which works to connect people with the river through cleanup and education events.

"I'm optimistic floodwaters will recede in time for the cleanup," program manager Steve Schnarr said. "But September is a long time from now."

Meanwhile, farmers are particularly distraught by the high waters because crops in many inundated areas had looked particularly abundant.

"Everything was planted up here. We had beautiful prospects," said Blake Hurst, a northwest Missouri farmer and president of the Missouri Farm Bureau. "It was one of the best-looking crops we'd ever had along the river, and now we'll never have any chance to get it."

Another farmer, Lanny Frakes, saw 1,100 acres go under water when weeks of furious preparations failed to hold back the river. Some fields could be underwater for weeks as heavy releases of water from upstream dams continue.

"It will take years to get back to where you were with the land," Frakes told The Kansas City Star.

 


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