Life slows to trickle for a few in downpour

Saturday, April 26, 2003

While drenching spring thunderstorms closed down nine Cape Girardeau streets and knocked out power at Jackson's fire and police complex Friday afternoon, area residents were not dissuaded by the weather from their jobs or errands.

A brief respite of sunshine broke through rain clouds shortly before noon, giving some hope that the storms had passed. But another downpour began around 2 p.m. Some areas of Cape Girardeau County reported hail and lightning strikes.

While no storm-related automobile accidents were reported in the county, some Cape Girardeau streets were barricaded to protect motorists during flash flooding, which stranded at least one motorist on Hopper Road, near Clippard Elementary School.

Cape Girardeau police reported trouble spots to the public works officials and road crews quickly put the barricades in place, said Doug Leslie, public works director. Area creeks and storm-water channels were already swollen from earlier rainfall, making it difficult for the new rush of water to be carried away. All but one of the streets was reopened within an hour.

There were no reports of flooded streets in Jackson, but the power outage in the police and fire station shut down phone and radio communications, said fire chief Brad Golden.

"The lightning struck somewhere around the high school and caused some power lines to twist, and that caused the power outage," he said.

A generator supplied electricity to the station until the power came back on within an hour, he said. While the public was unable to place phone calls into the two departments' business lines, emergency 911 calls were routed through a mobile operations van parked outside the building.

Water leaked into the building's basement, but that was not determined to part of the problem, said police Lt. James Humphreys. The storm also put the police department's computer system off-line, halting the ability to run checks on drivers' licenses and criminal backgrounds.

The sudden storm stopped some residents from finishing errands.

"I was up on the roof, cleaning out my gutters, at that time," said retiree Elmer Schearf of Cape Girardeau. "I figured the lightning was too close, and so I stopped."

Schearf met with fellow Cape Girardeau retirees Jim Jones and Kenneth Raney at the Broadway McDonald's for a cup of coffee after the storm.

"I was sitting asleep and then a couple pops of lightning was all it took and I was awake again," Jones said.

Raney said his day was interrupted by the rain, but he still kept busy.

"I've always got a big 'honey-do' list, but your priorities can get changed by the weather," he said.

Kidd's convenience store employee Nole Curry said foot traffic inside the Broadway store halted during the downpour, but outside it was a different story.

"The drive-through was pretty busy," he said. "They just kept right on coming. I had them lined up out to Broadway."

Friday's storm is the last bit of inclement weather expected in the region for at least three days. Today's forecast includes partly cloudy skies building to sunshine and temperatures in the mid-70s on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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