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Archive for Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Heavy rains cause flooding, power outages across Douglas County

City mops up after storm batters county

A group of friends (clockwise from front left), Chloe Riedemann, 13; Krista Griffin, 11; Nora Birchfield, 11; Sophi Riedemann, 10; and Maddie Birchfield, 13, paddle past the train at Buford M. Watson Park after the rain had stopped and the flood water had somewhat receded Wednesday.

A group of friends (clockwise from front left), Chloe Riedemann, 13; Krista Griffin, 11; Nora Birchfield, 11; Sophi Riedemann, 10; and Maddie Birchfield, 13, paddle past the train at Buford M. Watson Park after the rain had stopped and the flood water had somewhat receded Wednesday.

June 16, 2010, 4:19 p.m. Updated June 17, 2010, 1:05 a.m.

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Thunderstorms pummel Lawrence

Severe storms rolled through Lawrence and Douglas County Wednesday, June 16, 2010. Enlarge video

Heavy rain floods Lawrence streets

Slow-moving storms that passed through Douglas County Wednesday left many streets flooded and a good number of drivers stranded. More than two inches of rain fell on the area. Enlarge video

Lawrence streets looked like rivers. A serious storm landed in Lawrence, bringing with it strong winds and heavy rains.

Flash flooding, which began around 5 p.m. Wednesday, was followed by power outages, fires and sewer backups, while drivers trapped in their cars awaited rescue.

By the time emergency management officials warned area residents to stay off the roads, it was too late for several drivers.

Reports of water rescues on several streets were highlighted by eyewitness accounts of a person trapped in a floating car near the intersection of 31st and Iowa streets. Douglas County emergency dispatch reported that emergency crews participated in six water rescues of people trapped in automobiles in a 30-minute time period, though no injuries were reported.

Lawrence resident Michael Mitchell said he tried to brave the streets but quickly realized it was best to stay put.

“I started up on Iowa Street, and drove down Ninth Street; small cars were getting hit left and right,” Mitchell said.

Two noninjury, minor fires on Pebble Lane and the 1000 block of Mississippi Street were also reported during the storm, according to emergency dispatchers.

The storm, which affected all of Douglas County, hit the area around 4:30 p.m. and subsided by about 6 p.m. The final weather-related numbers included more than 2 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 60 mph, according to 6News meteorologist Matt Elwell.

“It’s not the worst flood I’ve seen, but it’s in the top three or four,” Elwell said.

Shortly after the rain stopped falling, a large sinkhole formed in Watson Park. It appeared to be 2 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Lawrence police were called to secure the area.

One Lawrence family decided to take advantage of the flooding. They inflated a raft and took it for a trip in water covering the basketball court at Watson Park.

“We decided as a family it’s always fun to walk down here and see how the park does,” Dan Riedemann said. “The kids wanted to swim, and I wouldn’t let them; they talked me into getting the inflatable.”

Riedemann and his wife watched as their three children paddled around the flooded court.

“We got off track a couple of times, but it was fun,” said Henry Riedemann, 12.

9:01 p.m.

The flash flood warning for Douglas County has expired.

7:32 p.m.

The flash flood warning for Douglas County is now in effect until 9 p.m.

7:18 p.m.

Lawrence streets looked like rivers.

Flash flooding, which began around 5 p.m. Wednesday, was followed by power outages, fires, and sewer backups, while drivers trapped in their cars awaited rescue.

By the time emergency management officials warned area residents to stay off the roads, it was too late for several drivers.

Reports of water rescues on several streets were highlighted by eyewitness accounts of a person trapped in a floating car near the intersection of 31st and Iowa streets. Douglas County Emergency Dispatch reported that emergency crews participated in six water rescues of people trapped in automobiles in a thirty-minute time period, though no injuries were reported.

Two non-injury, minor fires, one on Pebble Lane and the other in the 1000 block of Missippi Street, were also reported during the storm, according to emergency dispatchers.

The storm, which affected all of Douglas County, hit the area around 4:30 p.m. and concluded by about 6 p.m. The final weather-related numbers included more than two inches of rain and wind gusts up to 60 mph, according to 6News meteorologist Matt Elwell.

“It’s not the worst flood I’ve seen, but it’s in the top three or four,” Elwell said.

6:32 p.m.

With the heaviest rain moving out of the area, most streets have drained sufficiently for them to be drivable. Motorists are still urged, however, to avoid any standing water, as even a small amount of standing water is enough to sweep away a heavy vehicle.

Also, now 222 Westar customers scattered around Douglas County are without power.

6:15 p.m.

There are now 206 Douglas County Westar Energy customers without power, according to the company's website.

6:06 p.m.

High water is being reported along Brook Street in east Lawrence. That street is prone to flooding.

5:59 p.m.

We have received reports of a house at 2721 Harrison that has flooded as well. That's near 31st and Lawrence Avenue.

6News Meteorologist Matt Elwell said the area had received nearly 2 inches of rain thus far.

About 190 Douglas County Westar Energy customers are currently without power.

5:55 p.m.

Two more water rescues have been reported in Lawrence: at 27th and Alabama and at 29th and Bellhaven.

At the Bellhaven incident, an individual is clinging to the roof of the vehicle because water has come up past the car's windows.

Do not drive into standing water. Do not leave your house unless there is an emergency, local emergency official say.

5:45 p.m.

Local emergency management officials are urging Lawrence residents not to leave their homes.

Many streets in the area are impassable because of high water.

If you do leave your home, do not drive into standing water. Dozens of cars have been stranded and there are several water rescues underway.

The severe thunderstorm warning has been canceled but a flash flood warning remains in effect until 7:30 p.m.

5:40 p.m.

Storms roll through Douglas County

Thunderstorms made things difficult for commuters in Lawrence and Douglas County Wednesday evening. Enlarge video

A car was reported to be floating with a person trapped inside at the intersection of 31st of Iowa.

Firefighters are also investigating a report of a structure fire in the 1000 block of Mississippi Street.

5:38 p.m.

Witnesses have reported heavy flooding in Buford M. Watson park near downtown Lawrence, heavy flooding along 23rd Street from Iowa to Haskell, heavy flooding along Massachusetts Street between downtown and 23rd Street.

5:34 p.m.

Lawrence Police and Lawrence Douglas County Fire and Medical are responding to a water rescue in the area of 23rd and Ousdahl Drive.

Police reported 7-10 cars trapped in a foot of water along 23rd Street at Ousdahl. The street was being blocked both east and west.

Street flooding is being reported around town. You are urged to avoid driving until the storm passes if at all possible.

Stay with LJWorld.com for updates.

5:26 p.m.

Westar Energy is reporting 22 customers around Douglas County without power. More than 3,000 customers in Shawnee County are without power.

5:20 p.m.

Power flashed briefly in at least parts of downtown Lawrence after a transformer at the corner of 7th and New Hampshire caught fire.

Power remains on across Douglas County according to the Westar Energy website.

5:15 p.m.

The National Weather Service has extended the severe thunderstorm warning for Lawrence until 5:45 p.m.

Winds in excess of 60 mph were being reported with the storm. Heavy rain is also being reported across Lawrence with this storm system.

Power lines were also reported down in several places around Lawrence.

4:59 p.m.

The storm moving toward Lawrence has been producing heavy rain and caused extensive street flooding in Topeka.

Several water rescues have been reported. Similar conditions are possible in Lawrence.

Drivers are strongly discouraged from driving into standing water, as even a small amount of moving water is enough to take a car.

The National Weather Service has also expanded its severe thunderstorm warning to include Leavenworth and Johnson counties until 5:45 p.m.

Check back for updates.

4:36 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for Douglas County until 7:30 p.m. A second severe thunderstorm warning covering the portions of Douglas County not already covered has also been issued.

The second severe thunderstorm warning is in effect until 5:15 p.m.

Damaging winds in excess of 62 mph were reported near Topeka, moving this way.

6News meteorologist Matt Elwell said heavy flooding was a concern with this slow-moving storm.

Check back to LJWorld.com for updates.

4:19 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for portions of Douglas, Shawnee and Jefferson counties until 5 p.m.

Radar indicated a strong storm capable of destructive winds in excess of 70 mph had formed near Topeka and was moving eastward.

People in northwestern Douglas County, eastern Shawnee County and southwestern Jefferson County should be prepared to take precautions.

Check back with LJWorld.com for updates.

Comments

independant1 3 years, 10 months ago

heavy rain + storm drainage + sewer drainage = wetlands

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 3 years, 10 months ago

Nice untreated sewage to have your kids paddle around in.

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Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 10 months ago

Looks like the mom and kids had a great time. I am thinking that it might be a good idea to invest in an inflatable.

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jazzttt 3 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like everyone made it thru OK with only minor annoyances. I took a quick scan of the comments, and maybe I missed someone mentioning it, but the lead photo shows what looks like an adult and four kids paddling around flash flood waters in a rubber dinghy. How many life vests can you count? Maybe the water was shallow, but someone could have easily fallen overboard. Rising waters like this also pick up sewage backups, not the best place to be dangling your legs.

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independant1 3 years, 10 months ago

You know, water always runs downhill. The more water that falls, the more water runs downhill. Funny how water always seems to find the lowest places. When it overfills a low place it overflows to the next low place and so on.

My neighbors runoff always finds my backyard. Came in the basement window once.

I'm getting sick and tired of it! I ain't gonna take it anymore!

glub, glub, glub a rant from low places.

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pagan_idolator 3 years, 10 months ago

Yep - the road to hell or as my mom called it - Witch Way. North 2nd looked great. Improvement is working - i just wish they hadn't turned the field next to the shop into a flood plain. Oh well - guess they didn't expect the sky to explode the way it did.

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bearded_gnome 3 years, 10 months ago

pagan_idolator (anonymous) says…

My only issue is that since the city built the temporary road next to the Village Witch - it sent the water right down to my building and we flooded inside. Clean up sucked a big one. Minimal damage tho.

---that would be The Road to Hell, right? lol.

yours is the first report from north lawrence.
hey, this time did the usual flood happen at North 2nd and the rail bridge??? if not, that's about like Moses parting the Red Sea! guess all that improvement stuff is helping the drainage. I didn't hear of trouble at North 2nd and the bridge but maybe I missed it.

apparently most trouble was south of the river. thunder and lightning was great.

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pagan_idolator 3 years, 10 months ago

My only issue is that since the city built the temporary road next to the Village Witch - it sent the water right down to my building and we flooded inside. Clean up sucked a big one. Minimal damage tho.

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Uhjh 3 years, 10 months ago

We had 2.1 inches in 45 minutes at Crescent and Spencer, unbelievable down pour. Power was out for about 3 hours.

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KansasPerson 3 years, 10 months ago

I was really looking forward to getting a rain-amount reading when I finally got home, but then discovered that my rain gauge did not survive the storm! :(

(I think I can fix it, though.)

I got caught out in it, doing an Errand of Mercy (and cussing the person responsible under my breath all the while). Spent the worst part of the storm under the canopy at the gas station at the west Sixth St Hy-Vee. Made my way home cautiously after that.

Great timing, Weather -- a big storm right at the time a lot of folks get out of work. :)

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whats_going_on 3 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence streets looked like rivers.

sorry, but lol...someone here should be writing local plays instead of for the newspaper. :)

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jackpot 3 years, 10 months ago

Weather station now holding at 1.99". May have tomato plant blockage. The dump it out in front has 2.30" Wind reading 67.7 m.p.h. at 5:17 PM.

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Greg Counts 3 years, 10 months ago

Channel 41 said there were 3 water rescues going on in Lawrence, where is that info here?

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JackFrost 3 years, 10 months ago

Highwater risin', rising night and day All the gold and silver are being stolen away Big Joe Turner looking east and west from the dark room of his mind He made it to Kansas City, Twelfth Street and Vine Nothin' standing there Highwater everywhere

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animal_crackers 3 years, 10 months ago

11th street east of haskell street is totally underwater. i can't tell if it's flooded on the west side of haskell or not....

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g_rock 3 years, 10 months ago

Strangest thing I saw....car abandoned (and not in high water) just past a stop light and the 2 kids in the car walking up into a soggy field....possibly just for fun?

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tomatogrower 3 years, 10 months ago

My rain gauge says 3 and a half inches!

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riverdrifter 3 years, 10 months ago

At one point my weather station was computing a rain rate of 12.27" per hour. Fortunately, that was short-lived.

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Christine Pennewell Davis 3 years, 10 months ago

yep it is make it go away poor dog has to potty but hates thunder.

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grammaddy 3 years, 10 months ago

Jeez, it's coming down in buckets out here by the fairgrounds.

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jackpot 3 years, 10 months ago

I have 1.54" of rain in 45mins. I'm by the Hallmart back up to pike.

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countrythyme 3 years, 10 months ago

i'm sooo glad that when i'm checking into ljworld.com to get the most up to date news on a storm that i have to watch a commercial first. thanks for thinking of my safety!!

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none2 3 years, 10 months ago

I wonder if Red Dog Days will be canceled. I would think so, but never know how fast it takes for these storms to pass through.

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