Miami County continues costly flood cleanup

Miami County residents and public officials are still working on cleanup and rebuilding efforts following flash flooding that wreaked havoc during the early morning hours of Aug. 22.

A strong summer storm dumped almost a foot of water in portions of Miami County in only a matter of hours, overflowing creeks and shutting down portions of U.S. Highways 169 and 69, as well as Kansas Highway 68.

The floodwater killed a Pleasanton man whose vehicle hydroplaned off of U.S. Highway 69 and into deep rushing water in a ditch. It was the only flood-related fatality. Miami County Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Gibbs gave an update on the damage reports during a Miami County Commission study session Sept. 6.

Gibbs said the amount of public damage, including critical buildings, roads and other infrastructure, currently sits at about $510,000, but he said that number could climb closer to $1 million after all of the reports are calculated.

A large portion of the total — about $450,000 — is attributed to the Miami County Road and Bridge Department that has been tasked with repairing damaged roads, bridges and other public infrastructure.

Miami County Road and Bridge Director J.R. McMahon told the commissioners that the Ten Mile Creek railroad bridge near Hillsdale got washed out, and all of the rip-rap rock was washed away from one side of the 299th Street bridge above Wea Creek east of Paola.

“That’s a $45,000 emergency repair,” McMahon said. “Usually, the rip-rap moves, but this time it was gone on one side. These are huge rocks.”

The county may eventually get some financial assistance in the form of federal funds to help offset the recovery costs. Gibbs said the Miami County Commission has already approved a local disaster declaration because the damage exceeded the required $118,000 threshold, but the required number at the state level is $4.2 million in public damages in order to request federal funds. That number does not include damage to homes and other private property.

(Read more: The Miami County Republic)