Severe storms hit Johnson County, leave thousands without power

Storm debris cleanup Johnson County

A felled tree in the 7900 block of Nieman Road in Shawnee Friday evening. The tree snapped in half and was blocking most of the road. Photo credit Mike Frizzell.

Updated, Saturday, July 14.

More than 40,000 Johnson County customers remained without power Saturday morning, as Evergy continued to gradually recover from a line of severe thunderstorms that slammed the region Friday evening.

The utility warned that power restoration could take multiple days in the most severely impacted areas.

“More than 1,000 people are working on storm restoration, including line and vegetation crews, plus safety and other support teams,” a message reads on Evergy’s online outage map.

In addition, the company says it is working with utilities from Iowa, Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri for assistance.

The outage map showed outages on Saturday morning remained concentrated in northeast Johnson County, with nearly 70% of customers in Fairway still without power, 47% of customers in Mission Hills without power, 49% of customers in Prairie Village and 44% of customers in Roeland Park.

The original story continues below. 

Johnson County was beginning to clean up Friday evening after severe storms packing 50- to 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts and heavy rain rolled through the area.

The National Weather Service’s Kansas City field office issued the first severe thunderstorm warning for Johnson County around 2:30 p.m. Friday., and the system’s front line starting assailing parts of Johnson County about an hour later.

Wind gusts toppled trees — onto homes and into power lines — knocking out power to nearly 65,000 Evergy customers in Johnson County alone, nearly a quarter of the utility’s total number of customers in the county.

Firefighters in Johnson County were responding to check on more than 30 reports of power lines down and arcing or transformer-related issues.

The outages also created several situations where people were trapped in elevators and needed fire department assistance.

At 4:30 p.m., Evergy’s online outage map showed 130,000 customers across their coverage area were without power at 4:30 p.m.

An hour later, that number had jumped to more than 164,000 customers.

The disruptions were widespread and covered nearly every major city in Johnson County.

As of 6 p.m., more than 24,000 were without power in Overland Park, approximately 8,250  customers were out in Prairie Village, almost 8,000 in Lenexa and more than 6,300 in Shawnee.

The outages knocked out power to traffic signals at several major intersections on 75th Street just east of Interstate 35 in Overland Park, in Shawnee at Johnson Drive and Renner Road.

Several businesses were forced to close due to the outages, including the Walmart Supercenter on West 65th Street in Shawnee and the QuikTrip at 9025 Johnson Drive in Merriam.

Police were helping with the overload of calls for the fire department.

Officers were busy removing smaller tree limbs from roads where they could, and the storm set off a considerable number of burglary alarms.

City public works crews were out in multiple cities trying to clear trees that were blocking roads.

No serious storm-related injuries had been reported in the hours immediately after the system moved through.

Automated weather reporting stations across the county measured 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain.

One of those stations, near 79th Street and Lackman Road, reported 2.72 inches of rain.

Mike Frizzell is a freelance crime and fire reporter who runs Operation 100 News.