Record-setting rain causes flooding, road closures, power outages

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 | 10:46 p.m. CDT; updated 2:23 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Monday's record rain left Columbians busy Tuesday coping with the storm's aftermath.

COLUMBIA — Monday night's rainfall stalled cars, caused power outages, closed roads and broke an 83-year-old record.

The Columbia Regional Airport recorded 4.5 inches of rain and broke the previous record of 4.15 inches set in 1931. Even more rain fell in other parts of Columbia, including 5.47 inches around MU, according to the National Weather Service's website.

"A storm as heavy as this is a rare type of situation in any given area, but this type of event usually happens in the Midwest several times during the summer," said Jayson Gosselin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

Although more thunderstorms are in the forecast for Wednesday and Friday, they aren't expected to be as severe, Gosselin said.

"Most likely it won't repeat. There's a chance of rain on Wednesday, but it looks like it will be lighter," he said. "And as we head toward September, the atmosphere dries out and gets cooler, and heavy rainfalls get more and more rare."

Power outages

About 500 people lost power throughout the storm Monday night and Tuesday morning, said Connie Kacprowicz, spokesperson for Columbia Water and Light. All power was restored by Tuesday afternoon.

Kacprowicz said that lightning strikes caused many of the power outages.

"From an electric standpoint, it wasn't as bad as the storm we had in July, because this time there was less wind," Kacprowicz said.

Another lightning strike set a north Columbia apartment building on fire, resulting in the evacuation of the residents and $5,000 of damage to the roof and attic, according to a Columbia Fire Department news release.

Residents also lost power earlier in the weekend because of storms Saturday and Sunday, Kacprowicz said.

Flooded roads

Sinclair Road, south of its intersection with Nifong Boulevard, and Brushwood Lake Road at the Mill Creek Bridge remained closed Tuesday evening because of flooding, according to the Boone County Emergency Management website.

Other roads, including Creasy Springs Road, I-70 Drive NW and Blackfoot Road were closed for several hours Monday night and Tuesday morning. Floodwater alerts were issued to prevent people from driving on these roads. 

The Columbia Fire Department and Boone County Fire Protection District rescued several people from cars stuck in the floodwater.

The agencies rescued a driver from the top of a car that was caught in high water on Old Mill Creek Road and Highway KK around 1 a.m. Tuesday.

The Fire District also rescued people from their stalled car after they tried to drive through floodwater on U.S. 40 W, said Gale Blomenkamp, the batallion chief and public information officer for the Fire District.

Schools flooded

Some of Columbia’s schools had a busy morning recovering from storm damage, according to Michelle Baumstark, spokeswoman for Columbia Public Schools.

Two classrooms on Hickman High School’s lower level had about 3 inches of flooding Tuesday morning. There was also flooding in some areas of the lower level at Grant Elementary School. Both schools were cleaned up by Tuesday morning, and the buildings will undergo necessary water damage repairs.

Derby Ridge Elementary School, Grant Elementary School and Mill Creek Elementary School all had power outages as well. Power was restored to all three schools before school began, Baumstark said.

Road closings were another obstacle for some students and parents on Tuesday morning, though no students were unable to get to school because of weather issues. Baumstark said that some roads are consistently problematic in heavy weather.

Additional reporting by Kendall Foley.

Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.

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