Rain turned immediately to floodwater

Wednesday’s storm trapped vehicles, caused sinkhole

Many streets and yards throughout Lawrence had a chance to dry out Thursday, after a slow-moving thunderstorm dumped 2.34 inches of rain on the city.

Flash flooding, which began about 5 p.m. Wednesday, trapped some drivers for a short time in their cars. Power outages, minor fires and sewer backups also were reported. Douglas County emergency dispatch said emergency crews participated in six water rescues of people trapped in automobiles in a 30-minute period. No injuries were reported.

Matt Bond, city stormwater engineer, said the street flooding was due to a series of strong rainstorms that have pounded Lawrence in recent days. He estimated that the city received 4 inches of rain from Sunday until Wednesday afternoon, adding, “So, I would say within the first three to four minutes, when it started raining (Wednesday), anything that fell out of the sky was pure runoff.”

After the rain began to taper off Wednesday, a sinkhole formed in downtown’s Watson Park. By Thursday, the 2-foot-wide hole expanded considerably. Bond said a repair had to be made. “We put a collar on a storm pipe joint that had separated, so we’re fixing that,” he said.

Area plumbers reported no more calls than normal after a rainstorm. Residents who live in areas that flooded Wednesday said they did not sustain any serious damage to their homes or vehicles.

Matt Elwell, 6News meteorologist, said Lawrence has received 5.18 inches of rain in June, which is about 2 inches above average. But this year’s precipitation total of 17.91 inches is only 0.57 of an inch above average, Elwell said.