Ollie LaChapelle headed into Portland from her South Portland home Wednesday morning with the intention of doing a little shopping at Whole Foods Market in the city’s Bayside neighborhood.

Those plans changed when she was making the right hand turn from Franklin Street onto Somerset Street around 11:30 a.m. and a “geyser” erupted from a manhole cover right in front of her, spurting water several feet into the air.

“That’s when I panicked. I wasn’t thinking,” said LaChapelle, who drives a blue 2002 Toyota Rav4.

Drivers in front of her were panicking as well as the street filled with water and they attempted to turn around or drive through the flood. LaChapelle tried to escape the chaos by following the driver of a small, white compact that swerved into the parking lot of the Verizon store at Somerset and Franklin streets.

As the two drivers tried to escape the rising waters, they headed into what LaChapelle thought was a parking lot between the Verizon store and Planet Dog, but was actually a grassy field covered in water. The white car careened onto the paved Bayside Trail, which runs next to Planet Dog. LaChapelle didn’t make it that far.

She felt her SUV starting to sink, and before she knew it she was caught in a low spot that was rapidly filling with water.

LaChapelle called her husband on her cellphone and then got out of her car. She ended up wading through a pond of thigh-deep water.

Fortunately, the staff at Planet Dog welcomed her into their warm office and let her stay until her husband arrived.

She never made it to Whole Foods.

“I’ll tell you, I was some scared,” LaChapelle said as she stood near her vehicle Wednesday evening waiting for it to be towed. The Rav4, which she called “her baby,” would not start. She was having it towed to a dealer.

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