Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories featuring The Telegram’s top 10 news stories for 2014.
A downpour in June made it, by far, the wettest month of not only 2014, but the rainiest month on record and the second rainiest day on record for Garden City. The rain caused severe flooding and damage to homes and businesses in the city, while stranding motorists. This is the No. 7 story in The Telegram’s top 10 stories of 2014.
According to the National Weather Service, the June 28 storm dumped the second highest daily rain total ever recorded in Garden City — 4.37 inches. The highest recorded in one day came on Oct. 4, 1969, when 5.27 inches of rain fell. June 28th’s heavy rainfall helped push Garden City past the local all-time monthly record as 10.88 inches of rain fell in June. The previous record was 10.43 inches in July, 1979.
June’s rainfall easily surpassed the historical average rainfall of 3.37 inches for the month; the year-to-date rain total of 12 inches, at that time, also surpassed the historical year-to-date average of 10.3 inches.
The record rain started falling in the early morning hours of June 28 and brought in reports of foot-high flooding in areas and impassable county roads.
At the time, Finney County Emergency Management Coordinator Michael Paz-Torres said his office worked around the clock, receiving multiple calls of flooding in homes throughout the city, calls of severe flooding on Kansas Avenue, Mary, Fulton and Main streets, and several side streets throughout town. There were also about a dozen reports of stranded vehicles whose drivers called for the Garden City fire and police departments to pull individuals from cars stuck in high water.
“We were getting all kinds of calls — so many came in at one time,” Paz-Torres said, at the time. “One woman told us she wanted us to get snow plows to move out all the water. We got so much water earlier in the week, and to pile this rain on top of it, there was no place for it to go.”
Paz-Torres said emergency management crews were still taking in distress calls at 6 a.m. June 30, receiving one to two calls by the hour, and pumping out water in vulnerable low spots in the city. The heavy rain also resulted in roof damage to Adams Real Estate and Marv’s Garage, both in the 500 block of North Main Street.
At the time, Raul Del Torre, general manager of ServiceMaster, a fire and water restoration and mold remediation organization, said it was one of the worst floods he has ever seen. He said his office was fielding calls at the brunt of the downpour at around 3 a.m., and later responded to assess damage and begin restoration of about 15 homes in Garden City.
“Depending on the homes, it takes about three to four hours to clean it out,” Torre said, adding that workers cleaned homes on Mary Street, as well as several other areas around town and throughout the county. ServiceMaster also assisted L&L Floor Covering Inc., 112 N. Main St., which received flooding to its store.
At the time, Trevor Funk, vice president of L&L Floor Covering, said he was driving down Fulton Street on the way to the store at around 3 or 4 a.m., but the street was “too deep” and he couldn’t get down it.
Funk said the store was flooded from the front of the door to the back wall, later requiring 15 fans blowing through the building to dry the carpet. None of the inventory was in bad shape.
The heavy rain and hail that fell June 28 also prolonged the wheat harvest.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Mike Umscheid, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Dodge City, said year-to-date precipitation at the Garden City Regional Airport, the official observing location for the NWS, was 21.44 inches, 2.10 inches above normal.
And compared to last year, when total precipitation maxed out at 14.85 inches, Umscheid said the area is in much better shape in the moisture department.
“This year, Garden City is on the border of abnormally dry and moderately dry,” Umscheid said, referencing the latest drought monitor.
He added that at the end of 2013, Garden City was categorized as being in a severe drought.
“As far as the long term drought goes, when you average out over the last six to eight, nine years, we’re still in a significant deficit for rainfall,” he said. “But it’s not as extreme or severe as it was for Garden City and Dodge City a year ago.”
The bulk of this year’s precipitation came in June, he said. In stark contrast, total precipitation from January through May was only 1.36 inches.
“So it was pretty dry up until June,” Umscheid said.
Since July 1, the area has received an additional 9.2 inches of precipitation total, keeping June on top for not only the wettest month of the year, but on record.