Little by little, the floodwaters recede some Thursday afternoon, but that doesn’t change things for George Bolling and his family.
Their basement is still filled with water.
It’s just after noon and family members, including several younger children, crowd the small porch, seeking shade from a hot summer sun. The clouds have cleared, and it’s sweltering. The electricity was shut-off as a safety measure, so there’s no way to keep cool besides fanning themselves with whatever they can find.
They’re still waiting for their landlord to bring the pump he promised, but that was hours ago.
An American Red Cross volunteer offers food, information and vouchers to help the family and others affected in the 500 block of North Hickory Street, but so far, that’s the only help they’ve received.
The rain started around 10 or 11 Wednesday night, but at some point that morning turned torrential as the downpour turned into a deluge. Bolling’s brother, Jake Schmidt, who shared the basement with his wife, Kayla Sword, and their kids first noticed the water slowly trickling into their living area. But soon, it was rushing, filling up the basement. They had just enough time to grab a few dresser drawers before escaping upstairs.
“If it wasn’t for the alerts on our phones, or hearing the water, the kids could’ve…” Schmidt said. He stops himself not wanting to even utter what might’ve happened. It’s one of many times he can’t help but cry, shaken by the experience.
“I felt like I was in “Titanic,” Sword said. “I was pushing a nightstand and the armoire out of the way. We had to get upstairs because the water was covering the (electrical) outlets. The beds were floating, too.”
As the water began flooding the basement, Sword tried unplugging a power strip holding multiple cords, but something happened and she was injured by a powerful jolt of electricity. The surge immediately caused The surge immediately caused her to have chest pains and an anxiety attack. Luckily, firefighters and an EMT were nearby and rendered aid. Thankfully, she said, there appeared to be no permanent damage.
Schmidt’s family has lost most everything, including their kids’ clothing and toys. An uncle lost his belongings, including an amplifier and drum set. A sister lost her things, too.
At one point, the water was so high in the driveway it reached Schmidt’s waist, he said. He’s a little over 6 feet tall. The backyard is still swallowed by floodwaters.
As they sit there trying to figure out their next move, they’re interrupted. Another car pulls up in front of the house, and a man gets out to take a photo.
“It’s been like that all day,” Bolling said. “At least it’s starting to slow down now. People don’t even ask if it’s OK.”
As soon as the man leaves, another slowly pulls up. But this time, he makes conversation with the family, and asks before he steps out to take a photo.
“No, it’s fine,” George said. “And thank you for asking.”
The two continue to talk. It’s just a way to pass the time as they continue to wait.
A block away, Dawn Ferguson stands in her North Main Street business.
The front door is wide open, and a black hose connected to a water pump inside shoots water out onto the sidewalk.
A few hours earlier, Ferguson arrived not knowing what she would find when she opened the door.
After learning about the flood and the possibility she couldn’t gain access to her business, Ferguson didn’t spare any time and headed downtown.
Her business, Farmhouse Antiques and Vintage, 503 N. Main St., deals in antique furniture, collectibles and specialty items that can’t be found just anywhere.
Today was supposed to be different.
For days she’d been waiting to have the business’ stucco exterior painted. On a trip to Oklahoma earlier this year, Ferguson discovered the perfect color for the much-anticipated facelift. The project had already been delayed once because of rain, and so she’d been counting down to Aug. 1.
“We won’t be painting today,” Ferguson’s landlord, Ken Davidson said as he helped her begin the clean-up process.
Davidson, who’s owned the building for some time, said he’s never seen the water this high before. But more than that, he’s never had water inside this building before.
“Never,” Davidson said. “It’s never been that bad.”
Davidson was one of several individuals who volunteered to help with the clean up.
When she opened the door that morning, Ferguson said she found about 6 inches of standing water inside.
“Rugs were floating on top of the water,” she said.
The water poured in and collected in the lowest part of the building, which happened to be near the center of the shop. In that area, she displayed wood furniture and an assortment of other items and collectibles.
“A few baskets and photos were damaged, and we moved the furniture that got a little wet,” Ferguson said. “We just moved a lot of things back to a higher area. It really wasn’t too bad.”
Throughout the morning and into the early afternoon, the clean-up process was interrupted from time to time by Ferguson’s friends who stopped by to offer a hand or to just give her a hug.
One of her longtime friends, Susan Saunders, of Overland Park, came down once she learned what happened. Saunders and Ferguson go way back. They’ve been best friends since junior high, so she didn’t hesitate.
“I texted her earlier that morning, and asked her if the shop was OK,” she said. “She texted back, and told me she needed all the help she could get. So, I’m here for the day.”
As the water continues to recede by Thursday afternoon, Sword wanders down to the corner of Logan and Hickory streets, where kids are playing in the water. There, she finds a few of her belongings she thought were lost, never to be seen again. But it doesn’t look like they can be salvaged.
“It all just happened all at once,” she said. “The water just gushed.”