Archive for Sunday, September 14, 2008

Flooding closes turnpike near Oklahoma border

September 14, 2008

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The Kansas Turnpike Authority on Saturday was diverting traffic from Interstate 35 near the Oklahoma border due to floodwater.

"That's the only place that we're having to divert traffic," said Lisa Callahan, director of public relations for the turnpike.

Travelers heading south to Oklahoma had to exit at milepost 19 at Wellington to detour to the South Haven interchange.

Northbound travelers had to exit at milepost 4 and detour to Wellington before re-entering the turnpike.

In Wichita, the body of a 65-year-old man, the first victim of weekend flooding in the area, was found Saturday morning.

The man apparently drove his Chevy Blazer into some deep water, law enforcement officials said.

The man, who was from Sedgwick, got out of the vehicle and apparently was able to get a short distance from it, according to Sgt. Gary Hargis of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department.

The man was found alongside the road by a grader operator who was inspecting barricades about 8:45 a.m., Hargis said.

Wichita officials advised residents to ventilate basements to lower high carbon dioxide levels and warned them to stay out of floodwaters.

Gases such as carbon dioxide occur naturally and tend to migrate to low areas, said Kay Johnson, the city's director of environmental services.

Even basements that haven't been flooded are at risk because the moisture in the ground is causing the gases to migrate to basements, Johnson said.

Opening windows for 30 minutes or so is enough to restore levels to normal, she said.

Chris Carrier, the city's public works director, said people who are having problems with their pilot lights - either because they won't stay lit or because they can't be relit after being shut off as a precaution - can use that as a clue to high carbon dioxide levels.

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