By Dennis Minich
Last Saturday was supposed to be a festive day in Harrisonville and around the county. The Garden City Festival was in full swing. Cass Regional Medical Center hosted a 10-year anniversary celebration at its current location. And shoppers at the Trade Fair Mall were treated to hot dogs and other goodies as the store held its Customer Appreciation Day.
However, the day of festivities turned ugly in the early evening hours as thunderstorms roared through the area.
The National Weather Service indicated Harrisonville received about 3.8 inches of rain in less than two hours, while others with rain gauges reported more than five inches falling. The result was quite predictable for anyone who has been around Harrisonville long as the local creeks overflowed flooding homes and businesses. Additionally, power outages were reported leaving many residents in the dark for hours on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Harrisonville public works director Eric Patterson said flooding was an immediate concern.
“Flooding caused a couple of streets to be closed. That’s always going to be a problem when it is raining so hard,” he said.
He noted the city’s police and EMS departments went to some areas of concern to warn drivers about driving through high water.
“It was a preventative measure in some areas where we knew of potential problems,” Patterson said. “They were in areas more prone to flooding. It was an attempt to keep people out of some dangerous situations.”
Patterson said many of the problem areas from 2017 were not affected as much this time. The Walker subdivision behind the Trade Fair area and the business area on the southwest side of town were not hit nearly as hard.
“We didn’t get as much rain as we did in the 2017 floods,” he said.
But there was one major exception to the rule, the Trade Fair. Owner Lani Cook said it took just four minutes for water to start backing up to flood the building. Some parts of the business had just reopened following the 2017 floods. The store was open at the time of the flooding and some customers had to be told to leave the store. The open front doors were what allowed the water to rush in so fast and made it so hard to clear out.
“In 2017 the water came in and went right back out. This time much of the store had standing water two hours later,” Cook said.
While she said she was shaken by the flood in the store, one piece of personal property was destroyed which hurt her even more. In an adjoining building Cook had parked her special Kansas City Royals car. The 2015 Ford Taurus Sho, is complete with Royals detailing and contained more than 25 signatures of former and current Royals players. The water rushed in before the car could be removed and water rose above the hood. Cook is afraid the car is totaled.
Sunday, employees, vendors and area residents were on hand at the store helping to begin the cleanup, but it will take time to replace the computer systems, air conditioning and other items destroyed. Cook said she hopes the store will be reopened sometime early next week.
Besides the flooding, the storm also took a toll on area power lines. Patterson said the first calls came in about 5:30 p.m. and the electric department worked until early Sunday morning to restore power.
“We thought we had everyone back on by midnight, but we got a few calls from individual homes. But we had pretty much everyone back up by 1:30 a.m. Sunday. There were a few people who had been gone and we didn’t know about them so we had to go back Sunday for a few,” Patterson said.
Not related to the storm, but a large area on the southwest side of the city lost power about 8:30 a.m. Sunday when a bird got caught between two phases of power lines shorting out the lines. Patterson said the biggest delay was finding where the problem was.
“We had some people call who expressed they were not going to be happy if they were not going to be able to watch the Chiefs game in their own homes. Fortunately, we had most everyone back on before kickoff and only a few right after kickoff.
Patterson praised the work crews and looked at the bright side.
“The most important thing was there were no injuries. This will again show the resiliency of the city. I know a lot of people have gone to Trade Fair to help. I know the Ministerial Alliance put out a call for volunteers because they had some problems and people have responded,” he said.
According to Kansas City Power and Light, about 130 customers in the county were without power for a short period Saturday night. Of those, 80 were in the Harrisonville area, the others were in Pleasant Hill.