Weekend storm causes problems
The damage from last weekend’s rain is being evaluated this week by city and county personnel.
The storm caused problems in many areas with widespread flooding primarily west of El Dorado / Highway 77.
According to Butler County Emergency Management, rainfall reports came in as high as eight and nine inches by the time the skies cleared.
On Tuesday, Emergency Management Director Jim Schmidt said the water was just going down, so they were getting a better idea of the damage.
“We have a lot of damage to the township roads,” Schmidt said, adding it was similar to what they went through in the southwest quadrant of the county last year.
“Actually, this is going to be more widespread,” he said. “We probably won’t know the full extent of that for another day or two from the townships.”
From what they did know early this week, Emergency Management staff said pretty much any township road on the west side of the county that has a low water crossing was expected to be impassible early this week. In addition, north of Highway 254 in the northwest quadrant of the county, any road that had a crossing with he Whitewater River was full of water, including NW 30th Street.
In addition, Butler Road was under water in places, with problems reported specifically at NW 40th, NW 50th, SW 10th and SW 140th/150th. Santa Fe Lake Road and Thunder Road both had areas inundated with water, and SW 150th at Prairie Creek and SW 170th at Prairie Creek had reports of water running over them.
Significant damage by the new bridge on SW 60th at Dry Creek was seen from the heavy water flow over it.
In the southwest, SW 70th had to be closed due to water over the road near Wagon Wheel. There also was flooding to homes in this area.
“As far as damage to persons’ homes, what we have down here in Wagon Wheel, in that housing subdivision along Dry Creek, Indianola and Bittersweet, that is probably the most significant of any we know of,” said Schmidt. “We have probably a dozen homes that have got up to a foot deep [with water].”
The scene in Wagon Wheel included stack of carpet and other items laying outside of the homes as people began to clean up.
The towns in Butler County also saw flooding.
The city of Rose Hill reported heavy street flooding, while Augusta experienced flooding around Garvin Park and they dropped the stop logs in one section of the levee at Highland Drive.
El Dorado also saw a lot of street flooding and some closures until the water receded.
“For me, my takeaway was how much was accomplished to mitigate the problems and how much the community relies on the community to help solve them,” said El Dorado City Manager Herb Llewellyn.
One problem was caused not by the rain, but by a lightning strike to the lift station that services the jail and prison.
Public Utilities Director Kurt Bookout said they sent staff out to look at the lift station Saturday night. They called Robbie Pollard at home because they thought it was an electrical problem and he came out. They also had assistance from Hogoboom pumping wet wells, and Nowak brought out a pump and helped with a plan to bypass the station until it was repaired. HollyFrontier Refinery also had a fitting they needed to do the bypass.
“We have a lot of great partners here in town that we can rely on to help us out,” Bookout said.
Cookout said they will be in bypass mode the next two weeks while they replace all of the equipment that was damaged.
The city also offered their assistance.
Llewellyn said they received a call from the refinery needing sandbags, which they supplied.
City Hall’s basement also flooded due to a sub pump malfunction. In addition, the dugouts at McDonald Stadium flooded.
In the downtown area, water came up to the first step at Willie’s, but did not get inside and the city diverted traffic to help with the situation. There also was a washout at the railroad tracks at the entrance of the compost site, which was being repaired already.
Public Works Director Brad Meyer said everything was working as it should regarding drainage in the streets.
“When it rains horizontally for 30 minutes,” he said. “We probably got a couple of inches plus just during that period of time, not to mention what we had before and later.”
The rain caused Vintage Place’s pond to top at about 1:15 Sunday morning.
“Once you get so high, that pipe can only hold what it will hold,” Meyer said about the water draining.
Several areas in Vintage Place that don’t flood saw water with this storm.
City staff also closed North Main Street about 3 a.m. Sunday, first closing it at Wildcat Way because it was impassable at McCollum.
“There were probably 3 1/2 feet of water in that intersection,” Meyer said. “We were finally able to move it up to where you could get to Post Road, then when Post went down, Warren came up. There were road closures until 4-5 a.m.
“At 2 a.m., the amount of people who would still drive around a barricade is amazing to me,” he continued. “North Main had four or five cars that flooded out. The problem is you don’t know that the surface is still there to drive on, not to mention you can float off.”
Meyer said they know the drainage system in town is working because the water went down relatively quickly in most areas. One area they saw that did not was at Carr and Main, where they will look into problems in the drainage pipe.
“If we can contain a storm like we had in public right of way, we’re doing pretty good,” added Scott Rickard, director of engineering/planning/zoning. “We designed for a 10-year event and Saturday night exceeded a 10-year event. We designed for water to stay in the curb lines of the streets.”
Looking at the sewer system, Bookout said there was a lot of infiltration flow because of the high water, but he thought they faired pretty well.
“The waste water plant handled all the flow well,” he said.
At the Butler County Courthouse, the offices on the northwest side had water come in through the windows, and two sheriff’s cars located on North Main Street were flooded.
The El Dorado City Commission did hear some concerns from residents about the drainage during their meeting Monday evening.
Eddie Dean, Jr., was the spokesperson for his neighborhood.
“I have some neighbors who have some concerns with the street flooding in their neighborhood,” he began. “There has been some discussion in the past about what can be done. We are all concerned nothing is happing.”
He said it wasn’t just flooding with this storm, but they have watched the street flood for the last five years.
“I think everybody wants to work together and try to come up with a solution and be in the loop and know what is being done,” Dean said.
One concern was with a vacant lot on Prairie View Court which backs up to the golf course. He said even when they get an inch of rain in s short period of time a pond on the golf course floods their streets and goes up in the yards, including flowing across the vacant lot.
“At some point there will be a structure on that lot,” he said. “Our concern is then there is no place for water to go and there is even bigger issues for flooding the properties that are in that area.”
Resident Anna Vestring said she has lived in her house in that area a year and a half and their yard has flooded four to five times.
“I walked Sunday morning about 10 and the sewer at the edge of our street was halfway full of water,” she said. “It still had not drained out that morning.”
Commissioner Kendra Wilkinson asked what had been done to try to correct the issues there.
“This problem has come to us a lot,” Llewellyn said. “We keep trying things. If you think about what Eddie told you, when it was designed and built, this system in place was to go into a vault and trickle out over the golf course. By taking out a wall in the vault, we’ve lowered how stacked up the water gets before it drains.”
He also said they worked on the ditch to the south and removed the grate that would catch debris.
“We keep working on the golf course to help the problem,” he said. “I think that Saturday night’s rain was an exceptional rain, but we keep working at it. Staff was out there a week ago looking at it to see how it was doing.”
Commissioner Chase Locke asked if staff could look at what the options are at this point and report back to the commission at the next meeting.
Rickard said he will go out and meet with Dean to look at the area, then they will report back.
Throughout the county, assessments continue to be done.