A city text messaging system started issuing warnings in Newton on Monday, well before the waters started rising for the county seat. Rain had fallen on the region steadily and flood warnings began popping up in the region that day.
According to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, one reporter in Harvey County recorded 4.05 inches of rain in 24 hours, ending at 7 a.m. Wednesday. At that point, Newton had seen 3.54 inches of rain since Monday, while McClains recorded 4.68 inches.
And then came Wednesday morning. Sand Creek began coming out of its banks, and residents began bailing water out of their basements in different areas of town, including South Harrison Street and East Fifth Street.
The National Weather Service had more rain in the forecast, with all of Harvey County in a flood warning.
“We anticipate more rain is on the way, and so we encourage citizens to maintain their situational awareness today and throughout the week,” said Harvey County Emergency Management Director Gary Denny. “Check local media, check social media, use your weather radio — use whatever resources you have available to you to receive up-to-date information.”
Harvey County West Park was closed because of flooding. At Harvey County East Park, boating is temporarily prohibited and several areas of the lake are closed.
“We’ll continue to reassess, but my priority is to keep visitors safe,” said Harvey County Parks Director Kass Miller. “It isn’t safe to swim in the water right now. There could be debris from flooding.”
Despite all of that, the flood gates at Halstead remained open — however, the National Weather Service issued a river flood warning for the city of Halstead in effect until 11:05 p.m. Friday.
"City staff and emergency personnel will continue to monitor the river levels as needed," the city posted on its Facebook page.
The weather service, in turn, issued an advisory stating that the Little Arkansas River should crest Friday and set a new record. Flood stage for the river is 23.09 feet, and the record stands at 27.2 feet. The service projects a crest of 27.8 feet.
At 19 feet, Halstead closes the Halstead Road gate. At 20 feet it closes the railroad gate, and at 22 feet it closes the Main Street gate.