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Flood warning system greatly improved since 1998 flood

On the five-year anniversary of the deadly Oct. 4, 1998, flash flood, City officials cite numerous major improvements that have been made to the City’s flood warning system including a flash flood plan and barricading procedures now in place and well-tested.

Today, the City’s flood warning system is 98 percent operational versus 52 percent on Oct. 4, 1998. New flood warning software and additional gages that measure rain and stream levels allow City staff to monitor potentially dangerous rain events, providing critical lead time so proactive measures, such as street barricading, can be implemented.

“Most of the problems with the flood warning system cited in 1998 have been corrected. We now have a contractor who maintains our flood gages, and professional Water Services staff trained to monitor field data,” Director of the Water Services Department Frank Pogge said.

The City now has a Flash Flood Response Plan that includes monitoring of potentially dangerous flash flood situations, early activation of the City’s Emergency Operations Center and the deployment of barricade teams to close streets and bridges.

City departments now have clearly defined roles during flash flood events. The Public Works, Water Services, and Parks and Recreation departments are responsible for placing barricades in specific areas to prevent people and vehicles from entering places where dangerous conditions are imminent. To support these activities, the City maintains an inventory of approximately 400 barricades dedicated to flood-related street closures.

“Proactive monitoring and early activation of the EOC are critical to effective flash flood response,” said Tanya Allen, Acting Emergency Manager.

Equally important, Allen says, is individual awareness of potentially hazardous situations, such as driving through high water. “People should be aware of hazards, plan ahead and try not to put themselves in dangerous situations.”

Improved emergency public information capabilities also are cited by Allen as life savers during fast moving events such as flash floods.

Citizens searching for information about where to go and what to do during flash floods and other natural and technological hazards, should check the links to useful Websites on the Office of Emergency Management Web page (, or call the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the American Red Cross, (816) 931-6662.

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