(Kansas City, Mo.) – Significant rainfall 25 years ago combined with already saturated soil caused the Missouri River to overflow its banks from North Dakota to St. Louis. From the middle of May through mid-July 1993 up to 40 inches of rain fell in parts of the Missouri River Basin.
“At that point on July 27, 1993, the river rose to its crest of 48.87 feet,” said Tom Roberts, past president of Historic West Bottoms. “The top of the flood wall was 49 feet,”
Tom Poer, president Missouri and Associated Rivers Coalition (MOARC), added: “I remember walking out to the river’s edge and seeing the magnitude of the water coming down the Missouri River and the Kansas River.”
The levees held, and Kansas City was spared widespread disaster. Since then, flood protection has become even more important.
“After the 1993 flood, because it was the largest flood we’d seen and the flooding was getting very close to the top of the levee, we identified a lot of potential improvements to the levees,” said Tom Kimes, KC Water Stormwater Engineering Manager.
The Riverside Levee, built after 1993, is one of nine levees that protect lives, jobs, homes and businesses.
“Today there’s over $20 billion in investment behind that levee system,” Poer said. “There are over 90,000 jobs. The levee system is critical to the economic impact on our entire city,” said Poer.
Maintaining the levee system isn’t the job of just one agency. It’s a partnership of KC Water; Kansas City, Missouri; Kansas City, Kansas; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; local levee districts, and the community.
“I feel a lot better than I ever have because of the level of communication and involvement that the stakeholders through the Kansas City Industrial Council and MOARC and the cities and the Corps working together have had,” Roberts said.
Historically, the Missouri River floods about every 20 years. Next time, Kansas City will be in even better shape to manage the water.
“We will see it again sometime. It’s just a matter of when,” said Jud Kneuvean, Chief Emergency Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “It’s not a matter of ‘if.’ It will occur again. Our levees systems as a whole are in really good shape.”
Kimes added: “Kansas City is very devoted to flood protection. We spent a lot of resources bringing up our flood protection to a high level. Kansas City is noted nationally for having a really robust flood protection system in place and devoting resources to construction flood control projects.”
For more information, please contact Brooke Givens, Media Relations Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816.513.0284.
KC Water maintains and operates water treatment and distribution systems, stormwater management systems, and wastewater collection and treatment systems for residential and business customers in Kansas City and for wholesale customers in the Kansas City area. KC Water is primarily funded by fees charged to customers based on their use or impacts on the three utility systems.