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Robert and Melissa Rogers had four children including a daughter adopted from China earlier this year.  They have been especially close to CHI and remain 'one of our families'.  We express our condolences as they continue to be in our prayers.

Search Resumes For 2 People Swept Up In Floodwaters

Teams Focus 1.5 Miles From Interstate

 

POSTED: 11:27 a.m. CDT September 1, 2003
UPDATED: 8:29 a.m. CDT September 2, 2003

 

Rescue workers continued their search Monday for two people who disappeared late Saturday after a floodwaters swept across the Kansas Turnpike, tossing vehicles from the interstate and killing at least four children.

 

"We're covering all the angles and we're hoping for the best," said Mark Davis, the Chase County fire chief.

 

Still missing were Al Larsen, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Melissa Rogers, of Liberty, Mo., whose four children -- all under 10 years old -- were found dead Sunday morning, three of them still strapped into the mangled minivan.

 

 

Their father and Rogers' husband, Robert Rogers, had tried to free his children from the family's minivan as it filled with water Saturday and floated away from the interstate. At a news conference, a composed Rogers described what happened.

 

"Our children were screaming ... terrified. My wife, Melissa, and I agreed that our only chance of escape at that point was through the driver's side window, which we'd already cracked open in the event that we might submerge," Rogers said. "I kicked out the window and was instantly sucked into the raging water."

 

Highway Patrol Capt. Mark Conboy identified the Rogers children as Makenah Rogers, 8; Zachery Rogers, 5; Nicolas Rogers, 3; and Alenah Rogers, 1. Makenah was found about three-quarters of a mile from the van.

 

The focus of Monday's search was a reservoir two miles south of the turnpike behind the Jacob Creek detention dam, which weekend rains swelled from a normal 33 acres to about 90, Davis said. More than 50 people, in boats and walking the shore, were working their way from the earthen dam back toward the turnpike as the water slowly began to recede.

 

Around noon, divers began searching a few areas of the reservoir where dogs from the volunteer Kansas Search and Rescue Dog Association had sensed somethings, authorities said.

 

"He knew his family was still in the van with the water," Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Marc McCune said. "It's the most helpless feeling I've had in my life."

 

"God is God and I am not. The biggest question we have right now is why? We don't have the answer," Rogers said.

 

Highway Patrol Capt. Mark Conboy said the missing Texas man called his wife Saturday evening, told her his Jeep had stalled and asked her to come get him. The wife, Elizabeth-Anne Larsen, arrived at the scene Sunday morning but had not heard from her husband since that call.

 

"He said, 'There's a flood here, you have to come here,"' she told The Wichita Eagle. "He was very upset. He was talking very fast."

 

Seven vehicles were swept off the highway Saturday night. Beginning early in the day, the Emporia area received between 8-12 inches of rain in 24 hours, the National Weather Service said. Another quarter of an inch of rain fell in the 24-hour period beginning Sunday, as authorities found the vehicles strewn about a low-lying area in the Flint Hills.

 

A lone highway patrolman, using a bullhorn, was initially on the interstate Saturday night, trying to warn people away from the water that had flooded the turnpike, said the Rev. Steve Gordon, who was among those forced to stop on the northbound lanes of the interstate. Many people, Gordon said, did not heed the warning.

 

On Monday, the turnpike was open, but with traffic restricted to a single lane in each direction.

 

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Posted on Thu, Sep. 04, 2003
ROBERT ROGERS FAMILY
Candlelight vigil honors memory of woman, children who died in flash flood

The Kansas City Star
 
Hundreds of hand-held candles lighted the dark street corner Wednesday night, illuminating tear-streaked faces of friends, neighbors and strangers singing the familiar words of "Jesus Loves Me."
The candles represented the light that Melissa Rogers and her four children had brought into the world before being swept away by a flash flood on Saturday.
"Just as light dissipates darkness, so did their smiles," said Tony Ceballos, who led the candlelight and prayer vigil for the Rogers family at their Glenaire home near Liberty.
Melissa Rogers, 33, was one of the last two victims recovered Tuesday after a torrent of flood water shoved motorists from the Kansas Turnpike south of Emporia on Saturday night.
Also Tuesday, authorities recovered the body of Al Larsen, 31, of Fort Worth, Texas.
On Sunday, authorities recovered the bodies of the four Rogers children, Makenah, 8; Zachary, 5; Nicholas, 3; and Alenah, 1.
Robert Rogers, 37, survived after being sucked into the rushing water through the driver's side window he had broken trying to free his family.
"They've all affected our lives, and even if you didn't know them personally, they've affected you, or else you wouldn't be here," Ceballos told crowd of several hundred people gathered around a memorial of balloons, flowers, stuffed animals and construction-paper cards in the Rogerses' front yard.
Robert Rogers, he said, was standing only because God was holding him up.
"It's not that God took them away from you," Ceballos told him. "He's holding them, preserving them for you...where moth and rust do not corrupt."
Earlier Wednesday, flanked by his parents and his wife's father and stepmother, Robert Rogers spoke for about seven minutes at the Northland Abundant Life Worship Center, at times smiling at a memory, other times taking ragged breaths as tears threatened.
Rogers said he had peace and closure knowing that his wife, whose one desire was to be a mother, was "mothering to the very end as she led our four children from the water all the way to Heaven with her."
Even as the water filled their minivan, she was singing hymns and praying. Her faith, he said, was relentless.
Calling their marriage a "divine appointment," he said he had been blessed with a fairy-tale courtship.
"Ironically, our first date was at Friendly's Ice Cream in Boston," he said. "Our last meal together was at Braum's Ice Cream in Wichita last Saturday. Ice cream made for sweet bookends to a sweet and rich marriage."
For some reason, he said, God had a different plan for him that Saturday than for the rest of his family. After having visited the crash site, Rogers said, there is no logical reason that he survived.
"Somehow, I believe by an angel of God, I was washed up onto the left riverbank," he said. "It's truly a miracle that I am alive."
Returning to his home for the first time was difficult.
"Lots of familiar sights and smells," he said. "Lots of missing sounds and loved ones. Lots of empty chairs and empty rooms. Nevertheless, in my weakness, God is strong."
While at the vigil, Rogers said he was attempting to read every card well-wishers had left -- despite the lump they brought to his throat.
The sadness, though, is only temporary, he said.
"This is about eternity, because feelings fade away," he said. "I will see them soon someday."
Rogers emphasized that he was not bitter against God.
"He has graced me with a blessed, abundant life," he said. "Now, he has given my wife and children a blessed and abundant life everlasting."
He also said he had seized every moment with his family: "I have no regrets."
Ceballos urged all those at the vigil to follow Robert Rogers' example.
"Don't wait until the next candlelight vigil to pay respect to the people in your lives," he warned. "We are shallow if we can't walk up to a spouse, our children -- God's gifts to us -- and say `I love you.' What Robert wouldn't give to be in your place right now....Celebrate the living while they're here."
Visitation is scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Northland Abundant Life Worship Center, 7700 N. Church Road in Kansas City, North, near Liberty. A memorial service will follow at 11:30 a.m.

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To reach Summer Harlow, call (816) 234-5904 or send e-mail to sharlow@kcstar.com.
 
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