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Potential flooding brings concern in the West Bottoms

Posted at 7:01 PM, Jun 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 12:22:23-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As water levels remained in flood stage Monday, businesses in the West Bottoms continued to be concerned about potential flooding in the weeks and months ahead.

41 Action News Skyhawk drone footage showed the Kansas River nearly touching the bottom of a nearby railroad bridge and overtaking parts of the banks during the early afternoon.

After seeing much of the Midwest already deal with flooding and high water levels this year, staff at the Standard Battery shop a half-mile from the river wondered what could happen in the area moving forward.

“We drive over the river every day and watch it go up,” manager Mike Vujnovic said. “It’s scary when you see trees and brush and the river rising along the levee.”

The last few days have brought particular concern as levels reached flood stage along the Kansas River.

Despite the river being several feet away from a levee breach, Vujnovic told 41 Action News that flooding could still come later on in the summer.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s been raining around here,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with rain that’s happening in different parts of the country filtering its way down here.”

According to Vujnovic, any sort of water damage to the longtime car and boat battery store could potentially lead to a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s not a matter of moving (the batteries) by hand. It’s going to be trying to get a fork truck in here to do it,” he said. “It would be a considerable loss for us. It would be bad news.”

The West Bottoms has not been a stranger to flooding in the past, with feet of flood water hitting the area in 1951 and the 1990s.

Decades later, the West Bottoms expects to be a part of an over $400 million federal flood relief program over the next few years.

With the area continuing to see plenty of new businesses coming in and residential projects happening, the Historic West Bottoms Association said levee improvements could go a long way.

“If we didn’t have the protection on the levees, it would discourage development down here,” board member Bruce Holloway said. “It helps with the growth of the area when people know they’re safe.”

As the water levels bring concern to the West Bottoms, Mike Vujnovic wondered what could lie ahead this year.

“They talk about 20-year floods and 50-year floods,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.”

Water levels continue to slowly recede along the Kansas River in the West Bottoms, but the area will remain in flood stage until Friday or Saturday.