Heavy rains brought flooding to El Reno and forced the closing of Lake El Reno as well as some city streets.
As much as 4 inches of rain reportedly fell early Wednesday.
Jeff Kouba, Public Works director, said he’s never seen the lake reach this level.
“I can’t remember ever seeing it like this,” said Kouba. “It’s the highest I’ve seen the lake in my lifetime.”
Areas hit hard by the water included the RV Park and Crimson Creek Golf Course as well as the National Guard Armory.
Some picnic areas as well as some fishing docks were partially underwater.
The lake is expected to be closed for several days, but that didn’t stop people from bringing a fishing pole.
Longtime El Reno resident Frank Baeriswyl and his brother, William Baeriswyl, both said they haven’t seen the lake this full since the 1980s. They spent their Wednesday afternoon fishing from near the road, much farther from the lake than they usually set up.
“It’s good for catching catfish,” said Frank. “They like to move up these little channels where the shore used to be.”
The city received some complaints on social media about flooding, but Kouba said recent improvements have made flood-prone areas more capable of handling the excess water.
The rain began causing flooding near Keith and London. City crews were called to the scene and closed the road at 4 a.m. Kouba said it was reopened by 9 a.m.
Flooding in this area near Legion Park has been quite severe over the years, in some cases, neighborhood homes had to be evacuated, but that was not the case this time.
Phase 1 of a drainage project recently completed in the area held up well, Kouba said.
He said the situation will improve even more when Phase 2 of the project is completed.
“The drainage basin helped tremendously,” Kouba said.
“It got the water out quicker, and Phase 2 will help to further alleviate the issues this area has.”
Kouba said his crew of 16 Public Works employees worked their way through the city starting around 3 a.m. The crews checked areas of town known to have problems with water in order to close roads and warn residents of flood risk.
“The guys jumped out and did what they had to do,” Kouba said.
“It’s a top-notch crew, and they’re always ready to respond when needed.”
Aside from some briefly closed roads, there were large puddles and streams throughout town. Foreman, Country Club, Sunset, Elm and near the city airport were all covered with water to some degree. Areas such as Alfadale, Radio Road and Concho were also hit hard, reports said.
Firefighters respond to stuck bus
El Reno firefighters were called to east Jensen Road Wednesday morning after a school bus became stuck after the driver tried to turn around to avoid high water.
Fire Chief Kent Lagaly said the bus driver was alone in the vehicle when the incident occurred.
The call came in at 7:38 a.m., Lagaly said.
Later in the morning, firefighters were called to Banner Road after the creek on the north side of SH 66 “rose quickly.”
Lagaly said as many as three motorists left their vehicles after the waters rose around them. He said everyone was able to make it to safe ground, leaving the vehicles stranded in the water.
A drone was used to survey the area and Lagaly said a helicopter from Oklahoma City was called out, but fortunately no water rescues were necessary.