The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Hurricane force winds, heavy rains pound city

At least 12 power lines downed by storm; City Hall without electricity


Extensive flash flooding paralyzed the city of Sidney Monday night. High winds related to the storm caused damage to houses, signs and trees across the city.

Heavy rains around 6:30 p.m. soon overwhelmed the city's storm drains and filled many streets with deep and fast flowing water, which made travel in parts of the city dangerous or impossible.

The underpass to the North side of town was still closed at press time due to extensive flooding that left it impassible. Illinois street at 13th Ave. was closed down to one lane Monday night because only the middle of the street was clear of water. Many streets were closed with road blocks because of the extensive precipitation and downed power lines.

Parts of the city—including City Hall—remained without power on Tuesday.

David Phipps, a former Sidney resident who was back in town visiting, witnessed the quick rise of water last night firsthand. Phipps pulled into the Cevex gas station on Illinois when the rain and wind became so overwhelming that the driver couldn't see the road.

When the rain let up, Phipps attempted to turn around on 14th Ave. near Cevex, but his car was pushed toward Illinois by the rushing water.

"It was flowing right through the streets," Phipps said. "We couldn't back up, we couldn't go forward. It was coming down so fast it just swept us down."

Water pushed the vehicle into a dip in the road at the intersection of 14th Ave. and Illinois. The car lodged there. Water was coming in the doors when Phipps and his passengers escaped to higher ground.

City officials were out directing traffic on 13th and Illinois and blocking off impassible streets last night. Many residents lost power for at least a short period of time. Some were still without power this morning.

A dozen power lines were down at press time, according to power superintendent, Mike Palmer.

"There's no rhyme or reason, they're everywhere," Palmer said.

His crews started repair work at 8 p.m. on Monday, as the storm subsided and continued to work through the day on Tuesday. They expect to keep working well into the night.

The Nebraska State Patrol out of Lincoln was aware of one traffic incident related to last night's storm. A semi overturned in the passing lane on Interstate 80 at around 7:30 p.m. The accident did not cause any injuries, but the Interstate was closed for a few hours to clean up the crash. Other drivers reported a truck off the road along Highway 385 north of Sidney.

In town, damage was evident everywhere. Debris from flooding and winds littered many streets. Soil washed into the road in many areas as well. Trees and tree limbs were down across the city.

Sidney Public Schools canceled classes for Pre-K through 6th grades today due to power outages.

"The main reason was because power was out at Central and West," said Sidney schools superintendent Jay Ehler.

The schools waited as long they could before canceling school, but were told that power would not be back on until late morning. Both North and South elementary were subject to leaking and damage from last night's storm. Busing would also be an issue due to the closed underpass, Ehler added.

Sidney received around 1.78 inches of precipitation between the hours of 6:30 and 8 p.m. last night, according to Mike Weiland, a meteorologist with the national weather service out of Cheyenne, Wyo. The Sidney airport reported a wind gust of 78 miles per hours which is classified as hurricane force.

Many Sidney residents reported flooding in basements and roof damage.

"It was somewhat unusual for this time of year," Weiland said.

This sort of storm with heavy rains and high winds is more typical of a mid-summer storm, he added.

Shannon Ireland contributed to this story.


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