Rainstorm sends water leaking into Cabela's
America's foremost outfitter bore the brunt of a fast-moving, localized rain storm that dumped more than 2 inches of water on south Mitchell early Thursday morning.
Some metal roofing material on the western side of the Cabela's store beside Interstate 90 had been removed prior to the thunderstorms striking between 5 and 6 a.m. Thursday. Estimated 40 mph winds lifted a waterproof membrane, which allowed water to enter the building, store manager Mike Fox said.
Fox said he began receiving rain damage reports shortly after the storm rolled through.
The wind-driven rain flooded displays on the store's western side, and it caused several saturated ceiling tiles to fall.
"We have some damage inside and we're still making an assessment," said Fox, who declined to elaborate. Fox also declined to name the roofing contractor handling the job.
Inside the giant store, check-out computers were covered with plastic. Hoses snaked across floors as workers vacuumed water from areas near firearms displays, and a fleet of Steamway Cleaning and Restoration vacuum trucks shuttled collected water away from the store. Industrial-sized dehumidifier units were lined up at the door, ready for use once standing water was removed.
Clothing and software goods in central and eastern areas of the store appeared to be unaffected by water damage and the display of mounted game animals on Cabela's indoor mountain appeared undamaged.
Outside, roofing crews removed water-soaked debris from the building's west side. Signs posted on entry doors early Thursday announced that the store would be closed until further notice, but Fox said some customers were still being allowed in with employee escorts to ensure safety.
Actual customer activity, however, was minimal before noon. In several cases, customers decided to leave after store employees explained the cleanup project.
Mike Gillispie, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, said the storm brought between 1 and 2.5 inches of rain to the area.
The official rainfall total at Mitchell's airport recording station north of the city showed 0.93 inch of moisture, Gillispie said, but a review of NWS doppler radar stats indicated rainfall totals in south Mitchell at 2.42 inches.
"It was part of a cold front that moved through the area with southwest winds that brought in a lot of heat, humidity and scattered showers," he said.
The storm produced isolated pockets of heavy rains, Gillispie said, noting that the storm pocket that hit Mitchell was not more than three to five miles wide with top winds of 40 mph.
City of Mitchell Public Works Director Tim McGannon said he received no reports of problems elsewhere, but the rain may temporarily slow city crews working to rebuild Railroad Street near the Mitchell Public Safety Department.
"We'd rather not work in an inch and a half of rain, but we'll survive it," he said.