The Great Flood of ’08

Click any photo to enlarge.

Water, water everywhere.

After smashing the record for snowfall due to Gorebal Warming, we have had record rains this Spring due to Gorebal Warming. Many of you may have seen the footage by now of a couple of houses floating down the Wisconsin River. I even saw that footage on Fox News last night; it is on an endless loop on our local media.

To create that footage, Lake Delton overflowed its banks, took out a road and incredibly created its own new river. The ENTIRE lake drained out into the Wisconsin River. It was a spectacular sight.

Six hundred million gallons of water came out of the lake and into the river forty feet below in TWO HOURS, claiming the homes. If you had plans on catching the famous Tommy Bartlett show in the near future, you may consider changing your itinerary as it is pretty difficult to water ski on a lake bottom.

This entire region is now a disaster area, and many dams are in danger as I write this. A lot of trouble is ahead downstream – many parts of extreme southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois are next in line. To boot, many roads are washed out, and there is standing water all over the place. Yikes, the mosquitos are going to be insane this year.

On a personal note, I was visiting relatives in central Illinois while this was all going on. When we arrived home at 9pm on Sunday night I saw this large branch in my front yard. No big deal, I would just attack it later with a saw and put up the wood for next winter.

The next day I looked at the back yard. Uh, wow. What a mess. The city road crews had chopped parts of this large tree up and thrown it off the road into my yard. Time to call the tree dudes. I had many other large branches and sticks down as well.

Amazingly enough the tree removal guys will be out in just a few days. Their business will be booming, that is for sure. There is a line of debris in my yard that indicates that water was flowing down the street you see here, and into the yard about six feet or so. Incredible.

After I entered my house on Sunday I went downstairs to check the basement. Sh1t. Water. Lots and lots of water. But how could this be? I have a sump pump AND a battery backup since I had water down there before.

Well, after a few years my sump had loaded up with silt/mud and caked the mercury switches on both the main and the backup pumps. The mercury switches couldn’t float, so they couldn’t make contact – so my basement got a bath. I had several inches of water in places. And one absolutely humongous mess. My battery backup was ready, willing and able to do the job, but the mudded up switch wouldn’t let it. Damn, even insurance isn’t enough sometimes.

So, time to roll up the sleeves and get to work since my basement was still filling up with water. There was a manual “on” switch for my backup and I got that to work and was able to empty out the sump. I stripped my shirt , laid on my belly and – by hand – got to the messy work of cleaning out the mud and dirt out of the sump. What a wonderful smell. All the while I had to keep stopping to pump out the sump with the manual backup feature since it kept filling up over and over at an incredible rate. I finally got the main sump pump working and that helped immensely. Now I didn’t have to fool with the backup anymore and was able to really get the mud out of there. Within about an hour I had the whole thing cleaned out and both pumps were functioning properly. It was still raining – and the main pump was literally coming on every fifteen seconds. I have never seen anything like it. I have lived in this house for eight years.

Time to raise the Titanic. I got to work with a mop and bucket and after about three hours had the mess pretty well contained. The wife and kids got to work on the photos. We lost some, but most just needed drying out. Here is part of the ocean of photos laid out to dry. The photos cover most of the main level of my house.

Last night (Monday) this operation went officially from the rescue to the recovery phase. Since I am running on fumes as I write this (nine hours of sleep the last two days) I almost hate to say the following. This flood may have been one of the best things to happen to my house in a long time.

We needed to get those photos organized anyway. We will be hauling out an immense mountain of ruined stuff – things that were mostly junk anyway and needed to be disposed of, even before they were wet. The potential for mold and mildew simply accelerated this process. I am estimating that by the time it is all over in the next couple of days I will have removed approximately three or four H3’s full of crap. And it was virtually all things that have close to zero value, and weren’t needed around to clutter up the place.

Lastly, I am once again moved to think about how little material possessions mean to me. The photos had sentimental value and that is why the wife and kids were concentrating our efforts on saving those. On virtually everything else my wife and I just looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, put the item in a plastic bag and took out for disposal. No worries about a lost item, no sentimental thoughts, nothing. Just a look at each other like we sometimes do, knowing we are thinking the same thing. In this case, that thought was that this crap needed to be disposed of anyways, and mother nature just pushed us to do it a little quicker than we wanted to. Pretty much the definition of silver lining in this very grey cloud.

Cross posted at LITGM.

Added:  Here is a link so you can see how the lake emptied out.

11 thoughts on “The Great Flood of ’08”

  1. Good thing you live in a “throwaway” society. There are folks all over the world who would be standing in line to take your furniture home to their shantytown or favela or tent if they got half a chance.

  2. Jimbino – not really my situation. There was literally nothing of value that got tossed.

    We are very good at taking things that have any sort of real value to the Salvation Army on a regular basis – when I was growing up I got all of my “new” clothes there and decided that since they helped me when my family was struggling, that I would help them later in life if I could – so I do.

  3. Don,
    lying on one’s belly cleaning up the pump while the water still pouring in – something I don’t envy. And the clean-up afterwards, too.

    For your future weather prognosis I’d advise you to check out A.Sullivan. [as well as in all other categories; but that’s off-topic]

  4. Good luck with the clean up.

    The draining of the lake was caused by someone not paying attention. A channel of saturated soil must have existed between the lake and the river. That soil liquified and the lake water pushed it into the river forming a new channel. The threat of such an event can be predicted by soil analysis and by injecting concrete binding into the soil.

  5. My parents home got burned out, down to the ground – nothing left but a pile of toasted concrete tiles and blocks – in a fire in Northern San Diego County on October, 2003. The things that we regretted most losing were the photographs. Two weeks before the fire, my daughter was heading out to drive to her new posting on the east coast. She looked at the shoe-box of sorted and labeld photos in the guest room, and thought about taking them with her, to continue to work on the album we thought to make of them. She decided not to take them – a decision we have regretted ever since. (link here –
    As a refugee lady of my acquaintance remarked – take your jewelry and your pictures. You can hock the jewelry, and buy everything else – but you can never get back the family photos.

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