Flooding in Ponca City after storm

Friday, June 14th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PONCA CITY, Okla. (AP) _ Strong thunderstorms dropped heavy rain and golfball-sized hail in northern Oklahoma, causing flash flooding and disruptions in telephone and electrical service, authorities said.

Automated rain gauges failed in the storm, but National Weather Service meteorologist Bruce Thoren said Ponca City received at least 5 inches of rain Wednesday night, and possibly as much as 7 inches, and winds gusted to 65 mph.

``They were hit by three or four heavy storms,'' he said. ``There was major street flooding.''

Crews managed to restore electric service to all but southwest Ponca City and isolated areas of the community by Thursday morning.

Foster Johnson, managing editor of The Ponca City News, said phone service remained disrupted Thursday.

Officials believe high winds knocked trees onto power lines, causing the outages.

The winds also stripped roofs off homes and buildings, including First Lutheran School. The school was flooded and ceiling tiles and electrical lines littered the hallways, officials said.

Damage also was reported at many city buildings, including the city motor pool, which lost three-quarters of its roof. Windows were blown out of the civic center auditorium and the Ponca City Library, which also was partially flooded.

A spokesman for the Conoco Refinery said flames seen at the facility Wednesday night were not due to an explosion or fire, but to flaring that occurred when units that lost power restarted.

Since much of the town was without power, the flares seemed much brighter than normal, Keni Ray said.

The company's office complex suffered roof and water damage as well as blown out windows.