The Missouri River crested over the weekend in Leavenworth, and floodwaters are receding.

The Missouri River crested over the weekend in Leavenworth, and floodwaters are receding.

But it will take some time for the river to drop below its flood stage.

The Leavenworth area is scheduled to remain under a flood warning until further notice, according to the National Weather Service.

The river crested at about 6:15 p.m. Saturday at a depth of 31.3 feet. At 2 p.m. Monday, the river had dropped to 29.1 feet.

The river reaches its minor flood stage for the Leavenworth area at a depth of 20 feet. It reaches its moderate flood stage at 24 feet and its major flood stage at 30 feet.

With a crest of 31.3 feet, this marks the second worst flood on record with the NWS.

“No one ever thought we would see water this high again,” Leavenworth Public Works Director Mike McDonald said.

The highest crest for the Leavenworth area, which occurred in 1993, was 35.34 feet, according to the NWS.

For the current flood, forecasters had been predicting the river would crest around 30 feet. But on Friday afternoon, local officials were informed the forecast was being changed to more than 31 feet.

As a response, sandbags were placed around a floodwall behind the Riverfront Community Center.

“The floodwall was fine,” McDonald said. “There was nothing at all wrong with the floodwall.”

But there was concern that if the Missouri River rose higher than what was called for in the updated forecast, water could have overtopped the floodwall.

McDonald said the Riverfront Community Center never flooded over the weekend.

However, the building was closed for a period of time because of a backup from the building’s sewer system on the ground level.

Melissa Bower, public information officer for the city of Leavenworth, said the Riverfront Community Center has reopened.

The rise of the Missouri River has caused flooding in other areas including the campgrounds at Riverfront Park as well as Landing Park. Areas of Second Street in Leavenworth also have flooded.

There was flooding around the city’s Wastewater Plant, which is located on Second Street.

McDonald said sandbags placed around the plant’s administration building prevented the building from flooding.

He said other buildings at the plant became surrounded by floodwaters. But these buildings have elevated floors and the impact was minimal.

“Really, none of the buildings at the Wastewater Plant were significantly damaged by flooding,” he said.

He said the plant has remained in operation during the flooding.

McDonald said there was an overflow of sewer water from one building over the weekend that mixed with the floodwaters.

The Leavenworth Water Department, which provides drinking water for the community, has experienced a problem with a north intake facility located by the river. Water got into an electric pump motor of the intake facility Sunday morning.

“And that shut it off,” said Joel Mahnken, general manager of the Leavenworth Water Department.

He said officials with the Water Department have “been working on that to try to resolve that issue.”

Mahnken said the department, which operates two plants, has been able to meet demands for water.

“We’re in good shape right now,” he said.

On Saturday, Doug Smith, chairman of the Leavenworth County Commission, signed a county disaster declaration.

Chuck Magaha, director of Leavenworth County Emergency Management, said this will allow the county to be considered for a state disaster declaration and possibly a federal disaster declaration.

Magaha said financial assistance from the federal government could be made available to help local government entities recoup some of their losses from the flood. But he said losses from the flood will have to meet certain dollar figure thresholds at the state and county level before the federal assistance would be available.

And while the floodwaters are receding, there is concern about the potential for additional flooding this spring.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 2019 National Hydrologic Assessment last week.

According to the report, “the spring flood risk is higher than normal for the lower Missouri River Basin,” which includes the Leavenworth area.

The higher than normal risk is blamed on “above normal snowpack across the Plains, saturated soil conditions and the presence of deeply frozen soils.”

With concerns about additional flooding, McDonald said city officials will not be removing sandbags until June.

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