Hundreds displaced in historic Kansas flooding

Emergency responders evacuate Manhattan, Kan., residents during Monday's flooding. Photo courtesy of City of Manhattan/Riley County Police Department
Sept. 6 (UPI) —┬áHundreds of people are displaced in Kansas this week after a historic flood swept through several counties Labor Day weekend, causing the Kansas governor to declare a state of emergency.As the water recedes, officials are evaluating damage to houses, buildings and infrastructure before allowing residents to return home, said Jared Wasinger, assistant to the city manager in Manhattan, Kan., which experienced severe flooding.

Roughly 300 people were evacuated from their homes in Manhattan early Monday as the water quickly spread through the town. Of those, 30 are still in an emergency overnight shelter the city opened for flood victims. The others have been able to find hotel rooms or are staying with friends and relatives, Wasinger said.

Manhattan and the surrounding area received nearly 9 inches of rain Sunday and Monday, leading to widespread flash flooding. Officials said it was the largest flooding the area has experienced in recent history.

Emergency responders were notified of the imminent flash flood early Monday and moved quickly to wake residents.

“Police officers and firemen were at our apartment complex banging on doors and yelling to wake us up and let us know we had to get out,” said Alexandria Harm, a Manhattan resident whose apartment flooded. “At first we were confused because there was no water in our apartment, but it took about 10 minutes and the water started coming in. It was fast.”

Harm had just a few minutes to grab what she could from her apartment and get out, she said. By the time she and her boyfriend were outside, her car was submerged. The two were able to drive out in her boyfriend’s truck.

Many of her neighbors were less lucky.

“A lot of people lost all their vehicles and had to walk out through the water,” Harm said.

Across town, emergency responders rescued stranded residents in boats, Wasinger said.

The governor’s disaster emergency includes Riley County, where Manhattan is located, and four other counties. The declaration means those counties can apply for state and Federal Emergency Management Agency money as they recover.

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