Kansas, Missouri storms lead to water rescues, 1 death

August 22, 2017

This aerial photo from a video by KCTV5 shows a family forced onto the roof of a home in Overland Park, Kan., on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, after heavy rains caused flash flooding in the Kansas City area. Flash flood warnings have been issued across the area. (KCTV5 via AP)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities blamed flash-flooding Tuesday for the death of a man whose car was swept away by a torrent linked to thunderstorms that pummeled portions of Kansas and Missouri, prompting numerous rescues of stranded motorists and others who scrambled to safety atop a roof and tree.

Sheriff’s officials in Kansas’ Miami County say the body of 56-year-old Robert Dean Schoenhals of Pleasanton was found about 2 ½ hours after a deputy reported seeing Schoenhals try to drive through high standing water on a highway before dawn and hydroplane into a ditch with deep, rushing water.

Schoenhals’ car was found unoccupied about 45 minutes later, roughly 150 yards (135 meters) from where it left the road. The man’s body was found about 7:20 a.m., about 75 yards (70 meters) from his vehicle.

To the northeast in Kansas City, police and fire departments reported receiving more than 130 calls for water rescues during the storms that stretched from Monday night into the next morning, with dozens of others fielded in the suburbs.

As much as 9 inches (22 centimeters) of rain fell on one city neighborhood during the storm. A large swath of the region saw 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of rain.

A Kansas City family scrambled to the roof of their home after the Blue River escaped its banks early Tuesday. Fire officials, who are in contact with the family, will wait until the waters recede to rescue them. (Aug. 22)

In the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas, fire officials said a family of seven — three adults, four children — and at least one pet sought safety on the roof of a house after flooding along the Blue River inundated the one-story structure. Firefighters had been waiting for the waters to recede before making any move to assist the family down from its perch, but a civilian came to the rescue with a military-style truck and helped those stranded people to safety, ending their eight-hour ordeal.

In Kansas City, Missouri, rescuers early Tuesday helped a woman who sought refuge in a tree. Authorities said she had been watching flooding along the Indian Creek from her vehicle when the waters flipped her car and pinned it against the tree.

Portions of the creek rose to nearly 3 feet (1 meter) above the previous record from June 2010, according to the National Weather Service. But river levels were quickly receding Tuesday across the region, according to the weather service’s website.

The flooding prompted several schools in the region to either cancel Tuesday’s classes or delay the start of them. In some cases, schools cited busing issues linked to the flooding.

Update hourly