News Column

Theaters, motorists feel force of Saturday drenching

July 1, 2014

By Courtney Kueppers, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.



July 01--While orphan Annie and her friends danced and sang, entertaining an audience Saturday night during the play "Annie Warbucks" at The State Theatre, water from a downpour outside the Eau Claire performance venue poured backstage.

"It was coming in like a waterfall," said Ann Sessions, executive director of the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild, who worked at the event.

Despite wet electrical equipment, the show went on without audiences knowing about the building's leaky roof, Sessions said.

Across the Chippewa River, the play at the Grand Theatre, "Volcanic," wrapped up just as water began leaking on stage, Sessions said.

Local theaters weren't the only locations impacted by Saturday's 2.02-inch downpour in Eau Claire, adding to a soggy spring and early summer across the region. The city received 9.77 inches of rain in June, the third-highest total for that month on record, according to the National Weather Service.

The entire upper Mississippi River valley has experienced above-average rainfall this spring and early summer, said Rick Hiltbrand, a meteorologist with the Weather Service'sChanhassen, Minn., office. So far this year, Eau Claire has received 23.87 inches of rain and sleet, 10.24 inches more than usual. Most of the region has experienced similarly wet conditions.

Eau Claire street maintenance manager Steve Thompson said Saturday night's storm caused several street intersections to flood but didn't prompt lasting damage.

"The storm drains were a little overflooded for a while in a few locations," Thompson said. "It was more water than (they) could take."

Of the six intersections flooded during the storm, two were on the city's south side, near East Hamilton and Cummings avenues; two were on the north side, near Abbe Hill Drive; and another two were near 11th and Bolles streets on the west side, Thompson said.

In those locations the storm sewers are smaller and need to be updated, Thompson said, noting the city plans to rectify those situations in the future.

The Eau Claire Police Department received 16 reports of manhole covers that had popped off at various locations between 9:10 p.m. Saturday and 9:50 a.m. Sunday.

In addition, a report of a large metal fence in the road in the 300 block of Riverfront Terrace came in at 9:36 p.m. Saturday. More than 30 minutes later, a minivan was reported stuck in water at East Hamilton and Cummings avenues. The occupants told police they'd wait for the water to recede.

Officers also received reports of a hole 4 feet deep in a construction zone at 14th Street and Hillsdale Road and downed branches and a tree, according to the dispatch log. In one instance, a large branch completely blocked a portion of Broadway Street on Sunday afternoon.

Kueppers can be reached at 715-833-9203, 800-236-7077 or courtney.kueppers@ecpc.com. Reporter Christena T. O'Brien contributed to this report.

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(c)2014 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)

Visit the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.) at www.leadertelegram.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, WI)


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