Storm soaks, slings, swamps and scatters

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 10, 2004

Kansas City Southern employee Jim Pearson of Vicksburg rides a four-wheeler down the Redwood line this morning after checking out the train blocked by water, mud and debris near Piper Road. (Brian LodenThe Vicksburg Post)

[12/9/04]Most of Vicksburg woke up this morning with little water for coffee and low pressure for showers after torrential rainfall overnight damaged a city water main.

Recorded rainfall for the month doubled and moved well past averages for December with 4.15 inches falling across the area as heavy thunderstorms moved through around midnight.

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L.W. “Bump” Callaway, director of emergency management for Warren County, said that about 2 inches fell during the first 30 minutes of the storm.

That brings this month’s total rainfall to 8.13 inches in the first nine days. Average total rainfall for the month is 6.12 inches, and the record for the month is 14.33 inches, set in 1967.

This year’s total rainfall, 82.82 inches so far, has already passed the official record for Vicksburg of 74.46 inches set in 1983, according to the National Weather Service records since 1967. Normal for this time of year is 48.06 inches.

Callaway said flash flooding overnight was reported on about a dozen streets and eight trees were down across the county. Rushing waters were also reported to have reached at least one home on Railroad Alley and a business on Mission 66.

“Ditches and drains were just overwhelmed by the torrential downpour,” Callaway said.

Overflow from a creek under Interstate 20 that runs along Iowa Boulevard damaged a 16-inch water main and caused low pressure in most of the city during peak morning demand.

Lamar Heffner, superintendent of the city’s water treatment plant, said crews were out before 9 a.m. working on the problem.

“It may be a while, but we’ve got a parallel line so no one will lose water,” Heffner said.

James “Bubba” Rainer, head of the city’s public works division, said the heavy rain also washed out a block of concrete that lodged on an 8-inch natural gas distribution line, but that it was not leaking.

“We’re more concerned about that right now than the water line,” Rainer said.

The Culkin Water District issued a boil-water notice this morning after debris in a creek broke a water main line near Redwood, said Ken McClellan, manager of the district. About 75 homes were without water this morning and are under a boil water notice until water samples are cleared by the Health Department, McClellan said.

An overflowing ditch along U.S. 61 North also left nearly a foot of mud across Kansas City Southern Railway tracks near McCool Logging. Trains had to be delayed while workers from McCool helped clear the tracks.

Johnny McCool, owner of the logging company, said it was the second time in a week he has helped clear those tracks.

Mud also covered part of North Washington Street, reducing traffic to two lanes this morning.