Prepare for the worst; hope for the best.
We’re not totally sure the worst is going to happen, but it’s looking increasingly likely every day.
Local officials have been ramping up their messages to residents about flood preparedness over the last few weeks, and if you’re anywhere near a floodplain, you ought to be packing your things and preparing your property as best you can.
Tuttle Creek Lake is rapidly filling to the brim, and when it hits 100 percent, officials have said they will be forced to release water. That could mean simply increasing outflows at the stilling basin, also called the tubes, where at least a little water is released daily. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Tuttle Creek’s dam, has said that at that point the outflow wouldn’t be higher than the inflow. But that still could mean flooding if the Blue River channel overflows.
If there’s a lot of water coming into the lake, though, ultimately the Corps may have to open the emergency spillway gates, which are sort of on the southeast side of the dam. If officials do that, it will flood the Northview neighborhood and other areas that sit in the flood plain. It will fill some areas with several feet of water that likely will take weeks to recede. And it will leave behind mud and sludge that gets into houses and covers every surface.
The Corps’ three-day forecast calls for the lake to hit within about a foot of 1,136, the elevation at which the lake is considered 100 percent full. (The Corps says it doesn’t like to project beyond three days because weather and other conditions are too variable.)
Let’s not forget, meanwhile, that a totally separate threat exists for flooding along Wildcat Creek and the folks who live nearby. One heavy rain could spell disaster for them.
In short: We still don’t know if anything catastrophic will happen to Manhattan, but it would be irresponsible at this point not to be prepared.
Have a “go bag” at the ready. Pack your most important belongings and get them to the safest possible place. Move extra vehicles or anything that would be difficult to move quickly. Protect your house in whatever way you can. All of that takes time, so please don’t get caught behind. Doing so will just put more strain on emergency personnel.
Emergency management director Pat Collins said at a recent meeting that someone had asked him when they should start moving farm equipment.
“Now!” he answered. “Do it now!”
That’s our advice, too. Let’s get to it, even as we hope it’s for naught.