City crews Tuesday will continue collecting and hauling off fallen tree branches around town, a process that could take a few days, according to Parks Department director Jeff Boyle.
“I suspect we’ll spend a good portion of the week doing it,” Boyle said.
Crews from the city’s parks department, as well as from public works and water resources are all pitching in, Boyle said, with laborers divided up into four teams and assigned to the northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest parts of town.
“We’re asking residents to bring their limbs curbside, so we can pick them up and haul them to the landfill,” he said.
Fallen branches and leaf and twig litter from last Tuesday’s torrential storm have multiplied in the wake of heavy rains and storms Friday night and again on Saturday night.
So far for August, the Kansas State Ag Research Center at the south edge of Hays has logged 5.61 inches of rain, said weather observer Joe Becker, who records the official measurements there.
“We’ve already had 20.25 inches of rain this year,” Becker said. “What’s normal by the end of August, which we still have another week or 10 days to go, is 17.57 inches. So we’re 2.68 inches above normal already.”
Friday night’s rain measured .81 at the Research Center, said Melissa Alexander, office specialist.
That brought Saturday morning’s rain count at the Research Center to 17.53 inches, just barely below normal for the year.
Then Saturday night’s rains, with a heavy dose of thunder and lightning, came through in three waves, boosting the area above normal.
Rain at the Research Center measured 2.72 inches, but there was a lot more reported around town, Alexander said.
“The storm that blew in on Saturday, one of the guys had 3.7 inches where he lives,” she said. “It just depends on what area of town you’re in. I know at my own house we got more than that.”
Likewise, while residents of some areas of town reported hail at their houses with the Aug. 13 storm, the Research Center didn’t get any, Becker said.
Despite those three nights of heavy downpours, all 1,400 miles of Ellis County roads are open, with the exception of a low bridge in the 600 block of 370th Street in the southeast part of the county, according to Ellis County Public Works director Bill Ring.
That bridge, on a tributary of Big Creek, is at the bottom of a hill and often takes on water with any rain. Residents there have multiple routes out they can use, Ring said.
“For the most part we’re in good shape,” he said, noting that county maintainers are out fixing some spots that have washed out, with county dump trucks delivering additional gravel where needed.
“The water ruts it out a little bit,” Ring said. “So it’ll cause a bump when you hit it. So they’ll go out with a blade and smooth it out.”
Meanwhile, Midwest Energy Inc. reported that 25 of its transmission poles were downed by the storm along 230th Avenue northwest of Hays. Those poles, 65 to 75 feet tall, are nearly double the size of the 40-foot tall poles in town, said a statement from the company. Spring and summer storms have depleted the company’s normal supplies of tall poles.
With key power lines taken out, Midwest Energy on Monday asked residents to conserve energy from noon to 7 p.m. both Monday and Tuesday.
Powerlines from the south and east are supplying power until those lines are back up, which would normally be sufficient for Hays, according to Bill Dowling, Midwest Energy’s Vice President for Engineering and Energy Supply. But with temperatures both days forecast to be near 100, conservation, such as setting the thermostat a little higher, will ensure the lines aren’t overloaded, said the Midwest Energy statement.
“If you can delay chores like using the clothes dryer and maybe cook dinner on the stovetop instead of in the oven, those simple things will go a long way in helping us avoid overloading these lines,” Dowling said in the statement.
With limbs down in the city’s parks, particularly Frontier Park, some are blocking hiking and biking trails. Boyle said he’s assigned one superintendent to the parks this week.
“He’s doing it by himself, so it will be a slow process,” he said. Once branches are picked up in town, Boyle said the crews will make a sweep of the parks. City crews had help with that last week from minimum-security inmates at the Stockton Correctional Facility, Boyle said, but he didn’t know if they’d be back this week.
The city has plenty of time to get Frontier Park East ready for the next big event there, the Thunder on the Plains car, truck and cycle show, which starts Friday, Sept. 13, Boyle said.
“Oh, yes,” he said, “We’ll be ready.”
The heaviest rain recorded for August in the 151 years the Research Center has been keeping track was in 1993 when there was 7.38 inches of rain and Big Creek was flooding, according to Becker.
In 1894 not a drop of rain was recorded at the Research Center, he said.
“That just shows how extreme it can get,” said Becker. “Hopefully it will dry out now, and then if we’ll get another timely rain in a couple weeks, that would help the milo out.”