ATCHISON, KAN—Areas along the Missouri River in northwester Missouri and northeastern Kansas continued to prepare for flooding on Friday as U.S. Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri and Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas toured towns along the river that are most at risk for flooding.
The two toured towns like Elwood, Kansas, where officials say that the expected flooding is going to cost a lot of money and cause a lot of problems. A constant convoy of dump trucks is bringing in sand into Elwood to shore up what the Army Corp of Engineers are calling a low spot in the levee.
"We already have one business who's told us if it floods we're not coming back," said Elwood Mayor George Mitchell, who says that the city spent over $8 million on flood preparations last year, an amount that the town can't handle every year.
The mayor says that work on the levee is continuing, but at this point all they can do is wait and hope that their planning works.
"At 28 feet and rising we're going to do a voluntary evacuation for our city. At 29 and rising we'll have a mandatory evacuation," said Mitchell.
Across the river in St. Joseph, officials are hoping that a sea of sandbags will be the key to hold back the rising river.
"250,000 is the number of sandbags we need for St. Jospeh and Buchanan County. Hoping to have that met by Monday and as of 9 o'clock this morning we had 140,000," said Mary Robertson of the City of St. Joseph, who says that the bags should mean protection against at 32-foot flood stage.
But just north of St. Joseph, it's not the height but the duration of the flooding that has officials worried.
"The possible economic loss if the worse case scenario of this flooding were to happen would be phenomenal," said Lanny Frakes, president of the Halls Levee District near Rushville, Missouri.
Just outside of Rushville, fields of corn and soybeans lay in wait for their distruction.
In Atchison, a 600-foot long levee wall was put in place to protect businesses.
"Basically 2 to 3 blocks into the town is the max," said Atchison Mayor Allen Reavis. "We're probably a week out where, if the levees hold, it'll get up here in our town."
The one concern Reavis has is for his Missouri neighbors, there are quite a few who are live there but are employed in Atchison or utilize the Atchison businesses. Once those flood waters hit, access to the Missouri River bridge will be cut-off.
Graves also visited Parkville on his tour of the Missouri River, where he expressed his frustration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its decision to release enormous amounts of water from upstream dams on the Missouri River. Graves promised he would raise community concerns in future meetings with the Corps.