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Wichitans adapt to unusually wet and cool July

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013, at 7:47 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at 2:53 p.m.

Some Wichita-area businesses and attractions are enjoying this summer’s unusual weather, which has featured lower temperatures and one of the wettest Julys in Kansas history.

Crowds have flocked to the Tanganyika Wildlife Park this summer, director Jim Foutes said Thursday. The park set attendance records for May, June and July, which Foutes attributes directly to the weather.

“The overall attitude is different. When you’re hot and you’re miserable, you don’t have nearly as much fun,” he said.

As for the animals?

“They’re loving it,” Foutes said.

The animals are much more active on cooler days, Foutes said. When it’s hot, he said, they’re either looking for shade or taking refuge in their air-conditioned pens.

Golfers, it seems, aren’t much different.

Troy Hendricks, division manager at the city’s parks and recreation department, said attendance this summer is up over last year at all of the city’s five public courses.

“Cool weather has brought the golfers out,” he said.

Although Hendricks said the number of rounds played is up for June and July compared to last year, a cold, wet start to golf season means overall 2013 attendance is still below last year’s.

Raquel Stucky, co-owner at First Gear Running Company, said the good weather has increased excitement among runners. She said attendance has been up at the store’s Wednesday night track workouts and Saturday marathon-training classes.

“People are saying things like, ‘I just had one of the best runs I’ve had in a long time,’ and those are the moments that keep you going,” Stucky said.

More rain, of course, means different things to different people.

John Troyer owns Eagle Environmental, a water-removal company. He said more rain has meant more wet and flooded basements – and more business. He estimated revenue is up 40 percent from the previous July.

All the moisture in the air has also contributed to more mold, the removal of which accounts for about a third of Troyer’s business.

“Our income is dependent on how much people get mold,” he said. “We’re like the fire department: You don’t want to have to call them, but you’re glad to know they’re there.”

Derek Acker, who owns Flood Fixers, said he and his crew have cleaned 12 flooded basements since Sunday. His carpet-cleaning business is also doing better than usual for July.

Pat Brady of Brady Nursery and the trees he tends may be among the biggest beneficiaries of this unusually wet, cool summer.

“People’s lawns have come back, and their vegetable gardens are growing like crazy,” Brady said. “It almost feels like the first of May instead of the first of August.”

Brady said business is brisk, but people realize August could still bring high temperatures.

He said he has been getting a lot of interest from people who want to plant trees, shrubs and perennial beds this fall. Many of those trees are growing in Brady’s nursery, and he said they’ve benefited tremendously from all the rain.

But there is at least one drawback to all the wet weather, Brady said.

“I did notice quite a few mosquitoes out in my vegetable garden the other night,” he said. “That’s unusual.”

Reach Elizabeth Scheltens at 316-268-6562 or escheltens@wichitaeagle.com.

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