With repeated deluges the past few weeks, high water is on its way to becoming the new normal for Lee’s Summit.
Case in point: Although the latest downpour Aug. 21 was one of the biggest of recent years, a flooded main entrance road caused only a small blip in the morning routine at one Lee’s Summit elementary school.
When water from the nearby Little Blue River and its tributaries lapped over the two main entrances to Voy Spears Jr. Elementary School, parents, police and school officials put their heads together to find a safe way thwart any youthful hopes of a day off from classes.
Rather than cancel school, officials rerouted buses to a lesser-used one-lane road that also accessed the grounds, said Fire Chief Rick Poeschl. Water across the main entrances at 201 Northeast Anderson Drive also meant that parents couldn’t do their usual drop-offs at the school doors. So officials arranged for a staging area, where kids who would normally be dropped off could get on buses instead for a safe trip around the flooded streets.
It all went off without a hitch and classes went on as usual, he said.
The flooding was some of the worst for Lee’s Summit in an already bad year. One storm hit July 27 and another, Aug. 5. That one was accompanied by flash floods and the cancellation of an Uncle Kracker concert at Legacy Park.
“We’ve had our fill of rain, that’s for sure,” Poeschl said.
Runoff from storms throughout the metro area sent so much water into the Little Blue River that several streets were affected, Poeschl said, including Chipman Road at Cedar Creek and Old Tudor Road at Prairie Lea Lake.
The water at those roads receded quickly. But the area near Oak Brooks Meadows neighborhood stayed wet a little longer because water from the Little Blue River backed into Maybrook Creek and the subdivision’s pond. The river was filled with runoff from widespread heavy rains across the metro area.
One section of Scherer Road between Pryor Road and Ward Road was closed due to storm pipe damage, but had been reopened by Friday afternoon. Shawn Graff, assistant director of operations for the city’s public works department, said the city had most of the silt and debris around culverts and bridges cleared up by that time as well.
There was other damage as well. Some 25 people reported flooded basements, but there were no reports of water coming higher than that into any buildings, Poeschl said.
The basement flooding was mostly in an area of condominiums at Oak Ridge Meadows along Plantation Drive. The Red Cross and Missouri Baptist disaster relief crews have been called in to assist.
Still, the city escaped worse problems. None of the flooding caused anyone to be evacuated, and the fire department was not called upon for any water rescues, he said, although there were reports that former Kansas City Chiefs Star Neil Smith helped a woman wade away from her car.
The city is working with federal emergency officials, but it’s still too early for total damage estimates yet, Poeschl said.