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Tuttle Creek Lake to increase releases starting Wednesday

Lake officials said at a press conference Tuesday morning that it’s going to be a tense summer.

Officials said they will start to release higher amounts of water from Tuttle Creek Lake Wednesday after heavy rains in the region over the past month have inched water near the top of the lake’s dam.

The lake’s elevation stood at 1,133.27 feet above sea level Tuesday morning.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ three-day forecast, released Monday, predicts the lake will hit 1,134.14 feet on Wednesday, and 1,135 feet on Thursday. The same forecast indicates the Corps will release 2,000 cubic feet per second Wednesday, and 5,000 cubic feet per second on Thursday, via the lake’s stilling basin (also known as “the tubes.”). Until now, the Corps was only releasing minimal water at about 200 cfs.

That puts the lake a foot away from the top of lake’s dam at 1,136 feet above sea level, at which the Corps would release water at the same amount it comes in, by the end of the week.

Lake officials will use the stilling basin releases to minimize flooding, and they do not expect to have to use the lake’s emergency spillway gates, which could flood parts of the city if used. The stilling basin can handle up to 48,800 cubic feet of water per second.

High river levels downstream have restricted Tuttle Creek’s outflow rate to 200 cubic feet per second. The Corps uses a gauge on the Missouri River at Waverly, Missouri, to determine how much water it can release from the various lakes that contribute to the river’s flow. That gauge read 253,000 cubic feet per second Tuesday morning.

Inflow to Tuttle Creek Lake was 17,600 cubic feet per second as of Tuesday, and outflow was still at the 200 cubic feet per second minimum.

State weather officials expect flooding to remain a concern into June. Saturated soils and full lakes and reservoirs mean any additional rain is hard for the region to absorb. As the weather gets warmer, moisture in the soil might actually contribute to even more rain and thunderstorms when it evaporates. It could be months before water flow rates return to normal, Mary Knapp, assistant state climatologist, said.

In the meantime, area emergency officials will use the Manhattan Fire Station at 2000 Denison Ave. as a 24-hour emergency operations center.


I_wonder
I WONDER | Why are sandbags not being widely provided for residents like they were in 1993?

Q: Why are sandbags not being widely provided for residents like they were in 1993?

A: Well, some sandbags are being provided to residents.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees Tuttle Creek and other dams, it’s the responsibility of local governments to provide sandbags for flood events.

Riley County Emergency Management has a very limited supply of sandbags at the moment and does not stockpile sand. How many bags exactly Riley County Emergency Management Director Pat Collins couldn’t say for sure, but he said officials were left with about 10,000 bags after the 1993 flood. Before the event, he said, he had about a million sandbags to give out so people could redirect storm water and debris from homes and areas.

Since then, they’ve been using them on and off for different projects and impacted roads.

“That’s really what those are for,” Collins said. “They weren’t for the public use. Ten thousand doesn’t cover what I’ve got, and that’s about what I had when I started after the ‘93 flood.”

Collins said the county is allowing some people in flood-prone areas to pick up 15 sandbags to protect parts of their house but recommends people focus more on moving valuables to other locations like a storage unit or someone else’s home.

“Move your cars, move any items, clean your garden shed out, get that stuff out, move it off the floor, things like that that,” Collins said. “Surely people know somebody that lives out of the floodplain they could leave those with for a week or two.”

According to the Manhattan Flood Updates Facebook page, homeowners and businesses from the Blue River area can pick up to 15 empty sandbags at 6215 Tuttle Creek Blvd. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If people wanted more sandbags, Collins suggested residents buy some at Home Depot (about $18 for 50) or Menards ($0.29 per bag).

Sand is available at Midwest Concrete Materials for sale and Hartford Sand for free.

The flood updates page recommends people use filled bags to temporarily blockade doors, garage doors and window wells to keep water out while moving items, rather than building walls with them.

Collins said he has requested more sandbags, but the request has not been approved yet. Even then, Collins said sandbagging isn’t the most effective method of protecting homes and belongings.

“Part of the problems we ran into back then were people put them on public property, they’d put them on private property, and then when the flood was over they wanted us to come pick them up because they were contaminated from the floodwater,” he said. “And they didn’t work. That’s the bad part. We had people that spent a week to 10 days building a sandbag wall, and it didn’t work and they flooded their house. In a week, they could’ve gotten every piece of furniture out of their house, but then they didn’t.”

The flood updates page says sandbags do not keep standing or rising water out for an extended time and even for short term use, they may require a trash or water pump.


Staff photo by Matt Lunsford  

Retired Army veteran Salvador Villanueva visits the grave of his wife, Araceli, before Memorial Day services at the Kansas Veterans Cemetery on Monday. More photos at www.themercury.com.


Staff photo by Matt Lunsford  

Kansas State junior forward Peyton Williams (11) gets fouled while driving to the basket against Texas Tech this season. Williams led the Wildcats with 22 points as they beat West Virginia in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship on Saturday.


Features
OUR NEIGHBORS | Man takes grandson across US to learn about American history

Over the past year, Bob Funk has traveled across the country with his 10-year-old grandson, Jackson Bruce, to teach him about U.S. history.

“I don’t think kids learn enough about our nation’s history,” Funk, Manhattan, said. “I started thinking about this idea and both my wife and daughter thought I was crazy, but the more we talked about it, the more benefits we saw. I just wanted him to be able to see the places where American history was made. That’s the best way to learn it.”

As a former educator, the 66-year-old is passionate about ensuring that Bruce, the eldest of his five grandchildren, is knowledgeable about the subject. Funk most recently retired as the principal at Humpreys High School in South Korea, a Department of Defense school, about six years ago. Before then, he’d been a career military man, serving as an artillery officer in the Marine Corps until he retired in 1994.

Funk said he planned six trips for him and his grandson, each one centered around a different theme like America’s founding, westward expansion, civil rights, music and more. His wife, Wendy, also joined the two for some of the trips.

Each trip lasted for about a couple of weeks before they returned to Kansas for a short break and eventually set out again for the next leg of the journey. Funk said Bruce had to be home-schooled during that time because they were traveling so often.

The first stop was Washington, D.C., to explore how the U.S. was founded.

“The very first place we went was the National Archives because I wanted him to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” Funk said. “I said, ‘Jackson, when we go in there, look at my arms because I’ll have goosebumps.’ I wanted him to see where it all started, as far as becoming a nation.”

While driving through the Midwest, South and North, the group viewed grave sites of prominent American figures, national monuments and memorials, battlefields, museums and more.

Bruce said he learned a lot about history over the course of the year, as well as got to see several places and subjects he wouldn’t typically learn at school. They also had several chances to visit friends and family he doesn’t get to see often.

“D.C. had to be my favorite, following it was probably Gettysburg,” Bruce said. “Gettysburg is such a famous battlefield and it’s just a cool experience to be there. DC had a ton of historic things like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and a ton of memorials, so it was all pretty cool to me.”

At the end of each day, Funk asked his grandson to write about what he’d seen and also quizzed him on facts along the way.

One of the particularly sobering experiences, Funk said, was visiting the mass grave at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, where U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of Native American men, women and children in the late 19th century.

“I wanted him to see what to love about our country and be a patriot, but I also wasn’t going to just show him the good things,” Funk said. “I was going to show him the bad things as well.”

Bruce said visiting the battle site and nearby reservation helped him understand Native Americans better and learn not to judge books by their covers.

“The (government) just came in and told the Indians to move, and they just booted them off their land and reservations,” he said. “That was probably the worst time in our history and that’s probably the best lesson I learned.”

After exploring westward expansion, the group traveled through the south and Tennessee to learn about civil rights and the birth of American music. The final trip was to Alamo, Texas.

“By the time this was all over, Jackson’s famous words were ‘I’m all historied out,’” Funk said. “He was a trooper.”

Funk said if Jackson were to take anything from the trip, he hoped he remembered most the conversations they had, not just about history but about what kind of person he should grow up to be. Bruce said Funk emphasized four cardinal virtues, important character traits he needed to be a good person.

“The other thing I wanted to accomplish with this was to spend a lot of time with (Jackson) and talk to him about character and things like that,” Funk said. “We talked a lot about growth, character and how I wanted him to grow up, what kind of person I wanted him to be, so hopefully some of that sunk in.

“Spending so much time together, he certainly got a chance to talk to me more without distractions,” Funk said.

“That was the greatest thing being in the car and being able to talk. That’s what I hope he remembers, more than just going to see these things, but the time we got to spend together and talk about life.”


Area
Riley garage fire does $350K in damage

A house near Riley is a complete loss after a fire Sunday.

Around 7:45 p.m. Sunday, Riley County Fire received a call about a garage fire about three miles west of Riley, at 14821 Madison Road, owned by Lynn Thomas.

Pat Collins, emergency management director, said 37 firefighters with 25 apparatus spent more than eight hours putting out the fire. He said it appears to be caused by an electrical short circuit on the deep freeze in the garage.

He said the fire was a worst case scenario for the crews.

Collins said the two groups got to the scene that evening and had it mostly contained around 2 a.m. However, when winds picked up around 3 a.m., the fire rekindled, which set the roof of the main structure ablaze. He said the crews were able to get the fire out around noon Monday.

In total, he estimated $250,000 in structure damage and around $100,000 in contents lost. He said some of the contents are salvageable.

Fire crews used 240,000 gallons of water. He said in addition to rural areas being a problem in fighting fires, the holiday meant there were less volunteers available.

“The problem with the rural areas is there’s no water, so we have to bring it in,” he said. “The other problem with this house is because the structures had multiple roofs, it was more difficult… The driveway was 1,000 feet long with no turnaround; it was really the worst-case scenario for providing protection.”

The residents of the house were out before fire crews arrived and were uninjured, but a female firefighter was taken to the hospital for and treated for smoke inhalation, treated and released early Monday morning.

Fort Riley Fire and Manhattan Fire Department assisted.


Crime
JCPD officer arrested on domestic battery charge

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation arrested a Junction City police officer Monday on charges of domestic battery and criminal restraint.

Agents arrested Lieutenant Jason Waryan, 39, after the Junction City Police Department asked the agency to investigate a domestic violence incident. The incident occurred in the early morning between Waryan, who was on duty, and his live-in girlfriend, Krysteen Harbert, 27, in the 700 block of McClure Street in Junction City.

Harbert was also arrested on a count of domestic battery.

Because the investigation is ongoing, police are not releasing further information.