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Archive for Thursday, June 6, 1996

WATER RUNS AMOK FROM FLOOD

Wednesday’s torrential rainfall brought flash floods to several areas in Lawrence

June 6, 1996

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A river ran around -- and partly through -- Keith Hunsinger's house Wednesday morning.

And, like many residents in Lawrence's low-lying areas, he was getting acquainted with a wet-dry vacuum later in the day.

"I got water in my house and a couple of my bedrooms," said Hunsinger, 1728 W. 20th Ter. "And my air-conditioning ducts in the floor have water in them."

Hunsinger and several of his neighbors said the nearly 4 inches of rain two cloudbursts dumped on the city Wednesday brought far too much water for the city's storm sewers to handle.

Some residents said the water was flowing so fast that whitecaps formed. And high water in the streets Wednesday morning made many people late for work.

"All that water came down so fast," Hunsinger said of the morning rainfall. "There was a stream on both sides of the property out into the street."

There's an 8-inch-high watermark on the back of his house.

Next door, Marshall Biggerstaff, 1734 W. 20th Ter., said the rain came down so quickly that his entire back yard flooded.

"It came out of there between the houses like a river," Biggerstaff said. "We've had more rain, but not in that short amount of time."

Runoff runs rampant

High water also built up in an area just south of Lawrence High School and west of Centennial School.

"I had about 2 1/2 inches of water going through my garage," said David Cook, 2216 Carolina. "It was clear up against the house."

Cook said the water was 4 1/2 feet deep at the corner of Carolina Street and Greever Terrace. He said his corner intersects two streams of stormwater that form each time there's a heavy downpour.

"I get caught in the boil," he said. "My back yard was every bit a foot deep, with rapids. I've never seen it flowing this fast before. ... I thought it was going to take out the fence."

Cook, who has lived on Carolina Street about five years, said the flooding has become worse each year as more development occurs uphill to the north and east of his home.

"Every time the high school adds on, we get more and more runoff," he said. "A lot of these developers are building all this stuff and there's very little water retention. ... I've got cars washing out of driveways on videotape."

He said the Centennial Neighborhood Assn. is working with the city to improve stormwater drainage in the neighborhood.

Steeple KO'd

Rain was only part of the problem for Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H., which was struck by lightning about 6:45 a.m.

"It was just a tremendous noise," said the Rev. Charles Gilmore, the church's senior pastor, who lives next door to the church. "I didn't realize at that time it was the church. I thought it was a transformer or something."

The lightning blew off the southwest corner of the church's steeple, hurdling pieces of masonry up to a block away. Masonry also fell through the church roof, which underwent a $150,000 renovation last fall. Rain poured in through the new holes, damaging the church's pipe organ. And the lightning damaged electronic equipment, including a computer, a fire alarm system and the church's phone system.

During last year's renovation project, the church's sanctuary was closed for six weeks and services were held elsewhere.

"It looks like we'll be doing that again," Gilmore said. "We prefer not to put any spiritual or moral meanings to this, but it's certainly been an unfortunate incident for us."

Old, young affected

In south Lawrence, the heavy rains brought flooding into Colonial Manor nursing home, 3015 W. 31st.

"It was only an inch at the most," said administrator Niels Nielsen.

Nielsen said about 40 elderly residents were moved from their rooms into hallways while the staff mopped up the water.

Colleen Ice, 1505 Md., said a creek that flows through Parnell Park, 15th and Maryland, overflowed past a berm the city built to keep rising waters from Maryland Street.

"It was going over it like a waterfall," she said, explaining that water came up to the middle of her driveway.

"When it comes down that fast and that hard, the creek backs up," she said. "It usually takes a good 35 minutes to go down once it's flooded."

A few miles west of Lawrence, heavy rains washed mud down a hill into a swimming pool at the home of Deb and Lowell Stewart, 1636 E. 652 Rd.

"It's looking like chocolate soup," Deb Stewart said.

The muddy pool forced her to cancel a birthday pool party Wednesday for one of her daughter's friends, Amanda Clemente, age 9.

"Poor Amanda; this is her second time to have it canceled because of rain," Deb Stewart said.

Hunt for dry ground

Heavy rains also are causing ants to look for drier ground -- with some finding dry spots in homes, said Joe Bracciano, owner of Bracciano Pest Control.

Rain threatens ants' nest sites in the ground, he explained. The ants, trying to survive, pick up their eggs and find drier areas, such as underneath landscaping film, spashblocks or small cavities in a home's structure.

The key to getting rid of ants is to find the nest and eradicate it, Bracciano said, rather than merely trying to get the ants that go to look for food inside the home.

"If you don't, you'll be treating the symptoms and not taking care of the cause," he said.

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