• Flooding closes Sherman Army Airfield

  • Spring may have officially begun March 20, but there is still evidence of the harsh winter weather the area has endured since November 2018. With the melting of the high accumulations of snow and ice, and the added rainfall, the Missouri River has continued to rise, putting the Fort Leavenworth and Leavenworth area under a flood warning.

    • email print
  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Spring may have officially begun March 20, but there is still evidence of the harsh winter weather the area has endured since November 2018. With the melting of the high accumulations of snow and ice, and the added rainfall, the Missouri River has continued to rise, putting the Fort Leavenworth and Leavenworth area under a flood warning.
    As a result, Sherman Army Airfield is closed and off limits until further notice.
    “Flooding has occurred across all areas east of the Union Pacific railroad tracks on Fort Leavenworth. Effective immediately all areas, buildings, roads, trails, running routes and training areas east of the UPRR tracks are off limits to all unauthorized vehicles and foot traffic,” according to a March 18 memorandum signed by Garrison Commander Col. Marne Sutten. “It is extremely dangerous to enter these flooded areas due to the ever-rising, changing and unpredictable flood waters. … Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding.”
    The closing and evacuation of the airfield began March 15 when the flooding was expected to hit. Planes were flown out or moved, fuel in tanks was transported off site, utilities were shut down, offices were emptied out, services were curtailed, a Notice to Airmen closing the runway to landings and takeoffs was published, and railroad gates were locked and posted with “off limits” signs, said Doug Cook, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security operations chief.
    “It is a ‘wait and see’ to what the flood waters will do and where they will go and what they will affect,” Cook said. “Once the flood waters start to drop, we will still need to plan for what is happening to the north on and to the Missouri River.
    “Is more water coming down toward us? Is this just a lull and the waters will rise again? What do we think the Missouri will do? Once we know for sure that there will be no more major flooding, then we will have to wait until all the water basically recedes and flows out,” he said. “We cannot open up the airfield or that area immediately because everything has to be inspected, cleaned up and cleared for normal operations to resume. Everyone needs to understand that flood waters are typically not clean potable water. Therefore, trash and unwanted residue can and will be left behind.”
    The last time the airfield closed due to flooding was 2011, Cook said, but DPTMS has had a plan in place for several years.
    “We have an established and vetted flood plan that we keep on file. We re-look and update this plan every year. This plan lays out prudent and methodical triggers and action sets for us to take as we see that the Missouri River is rising,” he said. “This plan helps us to keep everyone safe and healthy and to protect government and personal property.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Though there are barriers blocking the public from the airfield, Cook said staying completely away from the flooded area is encouraged.
    “Dikes and levees can fail, water can surge and before you know it, you are in trouble,” he said. “Also, just as high water pushes us to high ground, this has the same effect on the wildlife. So do not be surprised if you see more and more wildlife in and around the main part of the installation. They need a safe place just as we do. Please give them a wide berth.”
  • Comment or view comments