Archive for Friday, June 7, 1996


June 7, 1996


Wednesday night's storm brought heavy rains, flash floods, power outages, hail and some tornado sightings to the area.

Lawrence residents were bailing out Thursday from back-to-back storms that soaked the city with 8 inches of rain in a 36-hour period.

The second storm, which brought nearly 5 inches of rain after 10 p.m. Wednesday, spawned flash floods in low-lying areas in the city.

At least five people, including two who were in cars, were swept into Naismith Creek at 23rd and Naismith and had to be rescued by local police, firefighters and volunteers. None were seriously injured.

Residents near other drainage ditches, creeks and in several low-lying areas of the city were pumping water out of their basements Thursday, surveying the damage.

Steve Johnson, division manager for KPL, said about 14,000 electric customers in various parts of the city were without power about 40 minutes during the brunt of the storm.

"Once we got that back on, we've been trying to get groups of people and individuals back on," he said Thursday.

Tornado sightings were reported north and east of Lawrence during the storm, but none were confirmed, authorities said.

Patrick Eynon, meteorologist with WeatherData Inc., said the rain should be over by this morning, with several days of warmer weather expected. The high today will be 77. Saturday's high will be 78, he said, with a high of 84 on Saturday and highs in the upper 80s Monday and Tuesday. No rain is in the weekend forecast, he said.

East Lawrence reported 3/4-inch diameter hail about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Mary Knapp, state climatologist at Kansas State University.

"You guys in the eastern part of the state really got nailed," Knapp said.

The 24-hour hour rainfall totals ending at 7 a.m. Thursday showed that Eudora received 5.5 inches of rain, Lecompton 5.55 inches and Ottawa 3.74 inches, Knapp said. Clinton Lake reported 6.48 inches as of 8 a.m. Thursday, she said.

Oskaloosa sustained 60 mph winds and 1.75-inch diameter hail, she said, while Eudora reported 1.75-inch diameter hail.

Lawrence gained national attention after the storm, including mention on CNN and The Weather Channel.

"The phone calls have been nonstop" said Paula Phillips, Douglas County Emergency Management coordinator.

In addition to regional media outlets, Phillips said she also fielded calls from CBS and United Press International.

For residents still worried about flooding, Phillips said, materials for up to 6,000 sandbags are available at Fire Station No. 2, 1941 Haskell, and at Wakarusa Township Fire Department.

"We've had a lot of calls from people requesting sandbags," she said.

The bags and sand are free, but people will have to shovel the sand into bags themselves, she said.

Phillips said officials are keeping an eye on Lone Star Lake, the Wakarusa River and the Yankee Tank Creek drainage area for possible flooding problems.

Many residents around Lawrence were surveying their homes Thursday, trying to assess the flood damage.

Several residents at Wood Creek Townhomes, 255 N. Mich., were trying to pump out several feet of water in their basements.

"It's at least 6 feet deep," said Ginger Kanza, who lives there. "The window in my basement was forced out by water. It just flooded through the window into my basement like water going over the dam at the bridge."

The high water in some basements was collapsing interior walls in the townhomes, she said.

Across town just south of Lawrence High School, Brian Lewis, 2114 Carolina, said the water came up from the street to his front porch. Then more than a foot of water flooded into his basement after the storm sewers backed up through the floor drain.

"It's a mess," he said.

Frances Longhofer, 1934 Emerald Dr., said her street flooded and water poured into her garage and her den. The water comes from Kansas University to her north, she said.

"We've got an endless problem," she said. "I don't think there is anything we can do about it."

Across town, Alex and Kelly Hormell , 3600 W. 24th, were watching a city crew lift debris that had clogged a drainage ditch that flowed under 24th Street next to their house.

The creek swelled across the street and then started backing up around their home, they said. However, the water never seeped into their home.

"It was scary," Kelly Hormell said. "There was a river all around our house."

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