KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Improvements of levees along the Kansas and Missouri Rivers are bringing relief and excitement for nearby business owners.
In the Armourdale section of Kansas City, Kansas, Art's Mexican Products has been in business making taco shells, chips, spices and sauces for 60 years.
Owner Rachael Gutierrez Kelley remembers the flood of 1993 and the concern it created.
"We took everything out of here," Kelley said. "Except for our two ovens, we didn’t take them out. We jacked them up and put them on cinder blocks and wrapped all the legs and the bottoms of our machinery with plastic, so hopefully the water wouldn’t go up that high and ruin our thousands and thousands of dollars of machinery.”
Kelley's business was spared, but the concern for the future remains.
On Wednesday, local leaders joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the "KC Levees Mega Project."
“This will help both heavy rainfall in the KC metro area and the heavy rainfalls you would’ve seen in the 1993 flood," Colonel Travis Rayfield with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.
Project officials said the $529 million project will raise 17 miles of existing levees and flood walls along the Kansas and Missouri Rivers.
“Elevation of those levees will increase about five feet, so if you’re a casual observer you’ll see them go up about five feet and that will reduce the risk behind the levees by about 200%," Rayfield explained.
The project is generating excitement for areas like the West Bottoms where Kerry Amigoni's business, Amigoni Urban Winery, is located.
“I think there’s going to be more even commercial development because there’s that protection, and hopefully, more restaurants and more people wanting to come down here and knowing we’re here as well as all of our neighbors," Amigoni said.
Project officials said construction is scheduled to begin on Oct. 25th and expected to be complete by 2026.