Storms that drenched western Oklahoma coming eastward


Tuesday, October 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


Like slow-moving specters, rainstorms plodded across western Oklahoma early Wednesday growing ever closer to flood-weary portions of central Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, it was western counties that received the brunt of the rain late Tuesday, with the National Weather Service reporting more than 5 inches of rainfall in Woodward, which along with the rest of Woodward County, Ellis County and Woods County, was under a flash flood warning between 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and 2:30 a.m.

Wednesday.

Woodward police dispatcher Carol Gastineau said the rain hadn't caused any major problems as of early Wednesday.

"There were just a few streets that city workers had put cones down on and then there's some neighborhoods that had electricity off, but I came on at midnight and I haven't had any calls or anything."

Gastineau said what had been sprinkles throughout most of Tuesday turned into a downpour around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"But I drove to work on the main highway and I didn't have any problems. Over in the outside lane there was a bit of water standing, but it wasn't like two or three years ago when it was up to my headlights."

Water was up to headlights Monday in Chickasha and Anadarko, which have been spared another round of heavy rain since floodwaters receded Monday.

But that could change by early Wednesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Floyd said.

He said light showers should reach the town in the early-morning hours Wednesday and could turn into more persistent rainfall later in the morning.

Still, he said, the storms weren't of the sort that caused the flooding of dozens of homes and businesses in central Oklahoma earlier in the week.

"We're not really looking for a flooding big event, just rainfall," Floyd said late Tuesday. "But tomorrow we'll be looking real close to make sure it doesn't get it out of hand."

Chickasha officials asked for a formal disaster declaration Tuesday following the flooding, which also caused a water main to break, disrupting water service there.

Chickasha Emergency Management director Steve Chapman said he asked Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management for the declaration Tuesday afternoon. He said he expected an answer from the state some time this week.

The National Guard and the state Office of Emergency Services brought in water Tuesday as a precaution. Schools, day cares, factories and the courthouse closed to help ease the water load.

The water line broke Monday night between Chickasha and Anadarko and pumps on the reserve system went out for several hours early Tuesday. Both reserve pumps were operating later in the day. Mayor Jim Parker said the pumps can handle almost 3 million gallons of water a day, which is just a little less than average usage in the fall.

"We're pumping in about two million gallons a day right now,"

Parker said Tuesday.

Throughout the downtown district, business owners continued cleaning up. Parker said more than $1 million in damage was reported.

A mound of water-logged carpet Tuesday sat outside the Chickasha Avenue photography studio of Jim Tibbetts.

"I was actually worried about having a leaky roof," Tibbetts said. "But this time it held up fine. It was on the floor where I had my problem."

Two doors down, an antique store owned by Dan and Angie Friskel didn't fare as well. Floodwater left the wooden floors of their 80-year-old building muddied and buckled.

"We're still waiting to hear from our insurance company," said Anissa Alcorn, the Friskel's daughter and the store's manager.

"But I know the floor is going to have to be replaced. Luckily, we have flood insurance."

The recent rain has affected nearly every portion of life in parts of Oklahoma over the past few days -- not all in a negative way. The state's hunters learned this week that the annual muzzleloader hunting season -- which had been pegged for postponement earlier because of dry conditions -- would run as scheduled from Oct. 28 through Nov. 5.