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Oklahoma News

June 15, 2010

Flash flooding strands motorists in OKC

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Flash flooding across the Oklahoma City area stranded motorists on their morning commutes Monday, prompting at least a half-dozen rescues and at least three interstate closures, authorities said.

No injuries were immediately reported but drivers were being warned to stay off the roads, Oklahoma Police Lt. Gamille Hardin said. Portions of interstates 35, 44 and 235 were closed, as were numerous smaller thoroughfares in and out of the metro area.

"There are cars where you can see just the rooftops, they're totally submerged in water," Hardin said. Footage from KOCO-TV showed a person bailing water out of the passenger-side window of a half-submerged car before being rescued by crews on a boat.

"There are various swift-water rescues that have occurred and are currently taking place across the city," said Oklahoma City emergency management director Frank Barnes. Fire crews went door-to-door in the northwest neighborhood of Ski Island, asking residents whose homes back up to Spring Creek to voluntarily evacuate while a nearby dam is evaluated. Rising water was creeping toward the top of the dam by late morning, Oklahoma City spokeswoman Kristy Yager said.

Anywhere from 1 to 3 inches of rain an hour were falling on parts of the city, and the National Weather Service said a few spots had received 9 inches of rain in a matter of hours. Lightning knocked out electricity to some areas.

"There's been showers and thunderstorms almost continually for the better part of six hours," said weather service forecaster Forrest Mitchell. "There are road closings too numerous to mention across Oklahoma County.

The main roadway into Will Rogers World Airport was shut down for more than an hour early Monday, and airport officials said several flight delays were reported.

"Downtown is flooded," Yager said. "We have a few traffic lights that are out causing problems. Stalled vehicles are causing problems. Crews are in the same situation that our travelers are in. They are stuck in this traffic as well."

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