More than three inches of rain fell in parts of Douglas County in a two-hour period Friday afternoon, leading to widespread flash flooding problems in Lawrence and rural areas.
Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical crews rushed to the 1300 block of Brook Street in east Lawrence around 6 p.m. to help two people after their car became stranded in the high water.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Lawrence resident John Freeman, who was driving the car. “It looked like the road and then all of a sudden it was water up to the side of the door. I didn’t know what to do.”
Firefighters with ropes tied around themselves made their way into the water to rescue the people, as the water was rising up from the floorboards and up over the seat of the car, according to passenger Angela Jennings.
“They got in front of us to come back upriver and let us walk behind them,” Jennings said. “The water was moving pretty fast, so they stood in front of us to help break the current.”
Lawrence Police took dozens of calls on vehicles stalled on roads during the height of the storm, according to police dispatchers.
Emergency Management Director Teri Smith said there were numerous reports of water over the road around Lawrence and throughout Douglas County, including 23rd Street and Ousdahl Road, the 2500 block of Maverick Lane and the 1700 to 1900 blocks of Kentucky Street.
Along U.S. Highway 59 near East 1200 Road south of Lawrence, debris floated from the ditches onto the roadway, Smith said.
There were also reports that County Road 458 was impassable because of high water near Wakarusa Valley School, Smith said.
More than 100 power outages were reported in Douglas County at the height of the storm. By midnight Friday, fewer than 10 customers were still without power.
6News Meteorologist Matt Elwell said the forecast for the weekend, including Kansas University’s commencement ceremonies on Sunday afternoon, looked great.
“The next four or five days look fantastic. Sunny skies and the humidity has been washed away,” Elwell said.