Heavy rains cause evacuations

Area receives more than 9 inches

? A powerful wave of thunderstorms early Thursday dumped more than 9 inches of rain here, pushing Walnut River levels to the limit, flooding streets and forcing evacuations.

No injuries or deaths were immediately linked to the storms, which began Wednesday evening and continued throughout the night, but they caused problems around the region.

East of here in Chanute, a roughly 30-foot break in the Neosho River levee appeared Thursday afternoon, according to Max Gough, Neosho County’s chief of emergency management.

Gough said some businesses already had been flooded and waters were moving toward residential areas. The water level was expected to continue rising and Gough said evacuation may be necessary.

“The water is so powerful there’s absolutely nothing we can do,” Gough said.

There had been no evacuations by late Thursday evening, the Sheriff’s Department said.

In Greenwood County, where some areas had received 8 inches of rain by midmorning, emergency management director Doug Williams said four people had to be evacuated from homes in the Fall River area.

A car is covered by flood waters Thursday in El Dorado. The nearby apartments were evacuated as the Walnut River flowed over its banks after several days of heavy rain.

“We’re using Jet Skis to get people out,” Williams said.

On the El Dorado riverfront, the Walnut River Apartments were evacuated and City Manager Gus Collins said at least 100 of the 140 units were flooded. A playground between the Walnut River and the apartment complex was submerged.

About 20 homes along the west branch of the river and a senior housing complex with about 22 people were also evacuated, Collins said. Two shelters were opened to accommodate the displaced.

The storms caused some temporary power outages and road closures across the city. Schools were closed early. Collins said 10 to 15 vehicles were submerged in water in the lower-elevation west end of El Dorado.

Dick Elder, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, said the storms began about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in south-central Kansas, bringing gusts of wind as high as 70 mph, hail up to an inch in diameter and scattered damage to trees and roofs.

Besides El Dorado, which recorded 9.04 inches of rain in the 24 hours preceding 7 a.m. Thursday, there were 9.36 inches in Coyville and 9 inches in Rosalia.