COLUMBIA —After torrential showers drenched Columbia Friday and Saturday, several drivers were left stranded along the roadside and 10,000 residents were without power after a transformer went out.
Rescue calls to the Boone County Fire Protection District and the Columbia Fire Department began Saturday night around 8 p.m., Fire Protection District Chief Gale Blomenkamp said. Firefighters responded to five water rescue missions by 9 a.m. Sunday.
Flooding of this nature is far from unusual in Columbia, where several low-lying roads typically become impassable after a heavy rain, Blomenkamp said.
“These are the low-lying areas that flood every time we have heavy rainfall,” Blomenkamp said. “We’re not experiencing flooding in different areas -- it’s in very familiar territory.”
While most of the downpour hit Columbia yesterday afternoon, several distress calls from stranded drivers came in during the night when it became increasingly difficult to see the standing water over the roadways or judge the depth of the water, Blomenkamp said.
"Turn around, don’t drown," is Blomenkamp's advice for drivers after several people decided to brave the murky waters and drive around the signs informing them that the street was closed, Blomenkamp said.
“People need to understand that as little as 6 inches can flood a vehicle,” Blomenkamp said. “They need to learn that if there’s water over the roadway they need to find an alternate route.”
As of 11 a.m. Sunday, it's not known when power will be restored to the 10,000 people affected, an operator at the Municipal Power Plant said. The outage impacted residents who live in the Stewart Road and Greenwood Avenue area. The operator said a crew was working to repair the damaged transformer.
There have been no serious injuries, Blomenkamp said. A flood warning was issued by the National Weather Service and set to expire at 10 p.m. Sunday. Road closures are expected to last throughout the day because of standing water. More rain is expected this afternoon.
“We expect to be fighting this battle all day,” Blomenkamp said.