HUMBOLDT — It will be several months before Humboldt’s Neosho River Park is back to its pristine self.
The late May flooding that enveloped low-lying areas along the river kept floodwater over much of the park for more than a week.
“This is the third flood we’ve had there in recent years,” City Administrator Cole Herder said. “The other times, the water was up for a day or two, then went back down. This one stayed much longer.”
When the floodwater finally receded, it left a thick layer of silty dirt and debris.
City crews plowed the silt away from the driveway, and will be at the park in the coming days to carefully remove several pieces of debris strewn throughout the park.
But with the silt — finer than most sand you’d find in a sandbox — coating much of everything, the city has been told to wait.
That’s because the floodwater that covered the park may have been contaminated with sewage and other pollutants, Herder noted.
Volunteers who have been down there to assist with cleanup have been encouraged to wear masks and protective clothing.
Grassy areas and flowers that were washed away may need to be reseeded, but likely not for several months.
“We’re probably looking at doing something in the fall,” Herder said.
From there, it’s a matter of “letting nature run its course,” in which rains will eventually wash away the silt.
Herder credited several volunteers with Humboldt PRIDE, spearheaded by City Councilwoman Vada Aikins, for their work to get the park reopen.
“They want to rebuild,” he said. “It’s a testament to their can-do spirit.”