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19 years after deadly storms, Kansas City continues to struggle with flooding

Posted at 11:08 PM, Nov 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-20 00:08:46-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On October 4, 1998, Orlando Hudson went to the store to pick up candles and cough drops. He never made it home. 

"I know that he had a lot more life to live," Hudson's sister, Sharon, said of her brother.

Hudson's car was swept away by raging floodwaters from Brush Creek. Before the vehicle submerged, he had time to call his wife, who was at home with their newborn son, to say goodbye.

Every year the Hudson family visits the Prospect Road Bridge to remember Orlando and the ten other people killed in floods that year along Brush Creek, Indian Creek, and Turkey Creek.

"The reality of it is we continue to see flooding happen along this corridor, but we are continuing to make sure those improvements happen, that it's not as bad as it was in the 80's and early 90's," Councilman Jermaine Reed said after visiting with the Hudson family on Sunday.

While improvements have been made, this summer's floods reminded city leaders they still have a long way to go.

Councilmen Scott Taylor and Kevin McManus drafted a resolution in August that passed City Council and allows the city manager to work with county officials, engineers, and FEMA to find solutions for flooding along Indian Creek and the Blue River corridor. One solution would involve using federal funds to demolish the strip mall at 103rd and Wornall.

"By allowing someone to rebuild on the floodplain doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's just going to flood again," Taylor said in August. 

Councilman McManus said they're currently working with property owners and trying to identify funding. City Manager Troy Schulte will report progress to the full council in February. 

Improvements are also being made along Brush Creek, including renovation of the Paseo Bridge. It's a small consolation for the Hudson's, who don't want another family to endure what they did.

"That makes me feel really good. I am so happy about that," Sharon Hudson said of updates along Brush Creek.

The family is trying to raise money to erect a memorial by the Prospect Road Bridge for the eleven people killed in 1998. They're hoping other victims' families, as well as the city, will come forward to help make it happen.