The rain just wouldn’t stop in the summer of 1993.
More than 42 inches fell in Manhattan between May and August — 8 inches more than the average for the entire year.
By mid-July the water in Tuttle Creek Lake was reaching the top of the spillway gates, threatening the integrity of the dam.
But to release the gates meant almost certain flooding of the Dix Addition and other low-lying areas outside the city’s levee. Corps officials told The Mercury at the time the decision was not a matter of whether the city was going to be flooded, but rather which part.
On July 20, 25 years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to open the emergency spillway gates. On July 23, the lake posted a record-high elevation of 1,138 feet above sea level, and officials increased outflows from 10,000 cubic feet per second to 60,000 cfs.
The spillway gates remained open for three weeks, and the size of the lake swelled from the normal 13,000 acres to 56,000 acres in that time.
The areas affected in low-lying parts of Riley and Pottawatomie counties included Ogden, the Ashland Bottoms, Casement Road along the Dix Addition, Hunter’s Island, Zeandale and Fairmont.
Hundreds of evacuees slept on cots set up in buildings, including the K-State Union, on the university’s campus. Meanwhile, volunteers helped in various ways, including filling more than 600,000 sandbags to prevent water from reaching certain areas.
Flooding that year affected the entire Midwest with damages costing about $15 billion. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, throughout the Midwest, 54,000 people were evacuated from flooded areas, approximately 50,000 homes were destroyed or damaged and 75 towns had been completely inundated.