Torrential rains wallop region

Emergency responders rescued more than a dozen people from flooded homes and vehicles overnight into Sunday morning. Businesses were assessing damage Monday, and county road workers began working on repairs from widespread washouts.


Local News

April 29, 2024 - 3:19 PM

A drone photo from Paul J. Porter of Iola shows flooding along U.S. 54 on the east side of town, with vehicles and equipment at Sigg Motors and Machine Shed submerged in water. The U.S. 169/54 interchange was closed for several hours Sunday morning as torrential rains flooded the region. Photo by Paul J. Porter/Big Square Media

About 20 people were rescued from flooded homes and vehicles between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, as severe storms dumped an official 4 inches of rain overnight, though locals recorded easily double that amount.

Emergency response crews received the first call for help at about 9 p.m. Saturday from someone who was trapped in a vehicle on a flooded road. Over the next several hours, the Iola Fire Department and EMS used boats to rescue residents from about four homes, Iola Fire Chief Corey Isbell said.

The water rose so quickly that in some cases, rescue crews pulled up in a boat early Sunday morning and knocked on the door of a home to find the residents were unaware of the danger, Isbell said. 

The Humboldt Fire Department also made at least two water rescues, and Anderson County’s water rescue team from Colony arrived to conduct three rescues.

All of those displaced by floods were able to stay with friends or relatives and there was no need for an emergency shelter, Iola Police Chief Jared Warner said. 

The worst of the flooding seemed to occur on the southeast side of Iola. 

The U.S. 169/54 interchange on the east side of Iola was flooded and closed for several hours, forcing traffic to reroute. It was reopened around 11:30 a.m.

Large trucks barrel through standing water on U.S. 54 at the underpass for the U.S. 169 interchange. The highway was closed for several hours until the water receded. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register
An SUV through standing water on U.S. 54 at the underpass for the U.S. 169 interchange. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register
Water covers the ramp onto U.S. 169. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register
A car is stranded at the U.S. 54/169 interchange. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register
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On Saturday evening, power was knocked out in the south part of Iola for about two hours. 

Iola police set up a temporary stop sign at the intersection of Kentucky and U.S. 54/East Street because the traffic lights were not working, Warner said. 

Numerous roads were closed throughout the county. Allen County Road and Bridge crews started erecting barricades Saturday evening, interim director Jeremy Hopkins said. They continued to work throughout the weekend to repair damaged roads. Water remained standing on roads west of Humboldt as of Sunday night, and many roads were washed out. Blacktop roads near Iola were hit especially hard, Hopkins said.

“Everywhere is a mess,” he said.

The Iola water plant is the official rain gauge for this area, and marked 4.0 inches of rain overnight into Sunday morning. 

The Neosho River crested at 19.92 feet at 11 p.m. Sunday and is expected to fall back to 10.3 feet by Tuesday morning. Flood stage is 15 feet. For comparison, the 2019 flood was 21.38 feet, the 2007 flood was 26.90 feet and the 1951 flood was 33.26 feet.

The U.S. 54/169 interchange was flooded and closed for several hours. Photo by Paul J. Porter/Big Square Media
A drone photo shows flooding over southeast Iola. Photo by Paul J. Porter/Big Square Media
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RESIDENTS continued to assess damage Monday morning.

At Machine Shed, a Kubota dealership, general manager Dwayne Campbell was busy evaluating damage to the inventory of tractors, mowers and farm implements to see if the flooding “got deep enough to get into anything that matters.” Campbell said someone called him early Sunday morning to report the flooding. Employees quickly arrived and tried to move equipment to higher ground, but at that point much of the property was underwater. 

Other residents shared posts on social media about their experiences. The farm of Job and Katrina Springer was severely flooded. A family member said 22 baby chickens, one adult chicken, four baby goats and four adult goats drowned, with only one adult goat surviving. They rescued pigs, horses, cattle and a donkey. 

Iola Transmission announced it was closed until further notice as drone photos showed vehicles underwater.

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