Heavy downpours caused grief for many Wednesday night, including Shawnee resident Steve Huffman, who was awake until 4 a.m. cutting and removing strips of wet carpet and vacuuming up mud after rainwater flooded his kitchen and bedroom.
While rainwater was invading his home, massive runoff from the heavy rains was wreaking havoc on the driveways of at least two Bethel homes, while a Shawnee family's car, unbeknownst to them, was being flooded where it was parked on a street.
Huffman, who lives in northeast Shawnee, said he's had problems in the past with water seeping from his back porch into his kitchen. After listening to a hard rain for several minutes Wednesday night, he decided he better check the French doors going out to the backyard from his kitchen.
The moment he stepped into the kitchen doorway, "I heard a splash of water," he said.
The water, about one-eighth inch deep, had already covered the kitchen and was quickly spreading. Trying to determine how much water was outside, he opened the door and quickly shut it as more than two inches of water was on the other side.
"It was still raining — there was nothing I could do," he said.
It was just after 11 p.m., but Huffman said he began the tedious task of cleanup. While the water was problematic enough, it brought along with it a muddy silt that coated everything in its path.
He began moving furniture out of the master bedroom, which also has an outside door to the same patio area.
"I was ripping carpet out the master bedroom," he said, and using wet/dry vacuum to soak up water from tiled areas in the kitchen and dining area. As fast as he worked, the water kept coming.
Huffman managed to keep ahead of the waters as he removed four to five tanks of water from his vacuum, with each trip removing 8-9 gallons of water from his home, he said.
He kept cleaning until about 4 a.m., hopeful all the noise wouldn't wake his children, he said.
While the ordeal was frustrating and left him sleep deprived at work on Thursday, Huffman said he and his family are still blessed.
"We've had friends call asking how they can help and what we need," he said. "As much as I want to feel self-pity, we have friends and can take care of ourselves — we are extremely blessed."
Huffman, who said their home sits on a hill, said their home took on some water during heavy rains in 2007 and they replaced the bedroom carpet after that flood. This time around, Huffman isn't so sure they'll go with carpet. Instead, he said they may look at finishing the concrete or may explore other options that might be easier to clean.
Page 2 of 2 - Heavy downpours hit the Shawnee area around 11 p.m. Wednesday night and continued through the overnight hours, resulting in Shawnee tallying a total of 4.72 inches of rain, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet.
Those rains, while a welcome relief for the drought, wreaked havoc in Bethel as well, where Carla Tollett discovered Thursday morning that the end of her driveway was washed away, making it impossible to drive out to the road and go to work.
"There was a 6-foot hole at the end of the driveway," she said, adding it was about 4-feet wide. With a little work on Thursday, she and her husband said they now have a temporary fix for that driveway to make it passable, but more will need to be done.
Sue Wyssman, who lives west of Shawnee, also found Thursday morning that much of their driveway was washed out.
"The dirt washed away — it went over to the neighbors," she said.
After her husband put his tractor to work, the driveway was made passable again. Despite the brief inconvenience with the driveway, Wyssman said the rainfall was needed in this area.
"It's just part of living in the country…I'm thankful that it's filled up the pond and lakes," Wyssman said of the nearly five-inch rainfall total. "This is Oklahoma. It could be worse."
Danielle Roberts and her family had no idea that all the rainwater was flooding their car overnight, which was parked in the street in The Timbers neighborhood.
While the waters were already receded by morning, there was evidence of high water affecting the car overnight.
Roberts said dirt was about halfway up the car, and then her husband noticed some water remained in the floorboard. She said the vehicle was parked near a storm drain, and the entire roadway turned into a muddy mess from all the runoff.
When the first wave hit, area roadways around Shawnee that typically see issues with flooding also were affected.
The MacArthur Street tunnel, Hardesty Road between Gordon Cooper Drive and U.S. 177, along with Benedict Street and Kickapoo at Kickapoo Spur, were some of the areas where brief flash flooding was reported.
Despite high waters in those usual spots, Shawnee/Pottawatomie County Emergency Management Director Don Lynch said waters receded in most areas about an hour after the rains let up.
The Little River also was out of its banks in south Pottawatomie County Thursday, but it only affected nearby agricultural lands, Lynch said.
As of late Thursday, Lynch said he had no official reports of damage made to the emergency management office.