Kirkwood Avenue, known for its bars and restaurants, was a scene of floating trash cans, flooded cars and Bloomington residents wading in knee to waist deep water after a flood left water levels as high as five feet Friday night.
The Bloomington Fire Department got 37 calls and conducted 17 water rescues, most of which were downtown.
Alyssa Harvey, 23, said she arrived at the Upstairs Pub around 10:30 p.m. and it started raining shortly after. She said when she got there, the power went out so she and her friends decided they should walk home. When they walked down the stairs from the bar, they saw water rushing in.
After waiting in the pub for an hour or two, Harvey said she decided to go home in what would typically be a ten minute walk.
In knee deep water, the less than a mile journey to her apartment took double or triple that time, she said.
Noah Davidson, 23, said he was at the Comedy Attic around 10:30 or 11 p.m. when they decided to see if they could get back to his friend’s apartment. On the run back, they were near Taste of India behind Kirkwood Avenue when he said they saw lightning strike the electrical transformer. He said the street lamps surrounding them went out.
“Everything just kind of went blank, like dark at once,” Davidson said. “And then that’s when we decided that we need to take shelter.”
Davidson said they went into the Root Cellar, where the staff had put candles out for light. He said he tried to get an Uber home but none were available. Davidson and his friend were able to walk back to his friend’s apartment on Eighth and Grant through ankle deep water, he said.
Uber Driver Matt Rogers, 46, said he picked a passenger up at 10:40 p.m. to take them downtown when the lightning and thunder started. Once they got downtown, most of the buildings had no power and visibility was zero, he said.
“Around that time, people became extremely desperate for rides,” Rogers said. “But after a couple of rides, there was absolutely no way to get to people.”
Rogers said he saw multiple cars on Kirkwood that were flooded and people wading through waist-deep water. On his drive home, Rogers said many of the traffic lights were out on College Avenue and Walnut Street and some cars were driving straight through them.
When Clifford Bakehorn, 33, was standing outside of Malibu Grill, he said he saw lightning hit the transformer, heard a boom and saw bright green before the lights went out.
When he was three blocks away from his house, the car he was in got stuck in a puddle of water. His friend was able to pick him up in a Humvee and they went to Kirkwood to see if anyone needed help.
When they got to downtown Bloomington around 1 a.m. he said he saw a car that was almost on its side stuck on the yellow bollards that are used to block Kirkwood off for outdoor dining.
Bakehorn said he saw trees that had fallen over on Washington Street, flooding against the windows of Goodfellas Pizzeria and other Kirkwood businesses and vacant, flooded cars on Kirkwood Avenue.
While Bakehorn said he was fine once he got home, he wasn’t sure how others had fared around town.
“I was very much concerned for friends and family here in town,” he said.