My continued story of an incredible week of events.
The story thus far.
Our hero (that would be me) and his wife are attempting to return home after a trip to Chicago’s Chinatown. Upon exiting the freeway, they have suddenly found themselves marooned on a stretch of road with all exits off flooded by water. Essentially, we stuck on an island with no way off. I ended the last post, telling you I was ready to give up and take one of the few remaining parking places at the Burger King at Rawson and 13th. However, I have growing concerns about our house. Yes, this reads like a bad movie. If you have not read the first part of this story, you may want to click here and read it first. I have also added a couple photos of two roads, now dry, that were flooded. This might give you a better idea why the whole thing was so bizarre.
As far as I could tell, the only way in or out of the area seemed to be those coming off the freeway eastbound on Rawson.
While these cars still had to drive through several inches of water at least they were getting through. There were several cars stuck in the flood in the westbound lanes. As I said before, why do people think they can get past cars that have already got stuck in the water? If your going to follow what someone else has done, try something they succeeded at, not failed.
I noticed that a couple cars were escaping by going the wrong way against the eastbound traffic. The water was still a bit deeper in the left turn lane than I wanted to risk, but if I timed it right, we might sneak through while there was not too much traffic.
I managed to time it pretty good.
I reached the light just as there was a break in the traffic and managed get to the next break in the boulevard before the traffic became dangerous. My first thought was to go west and try to take 27th Street over to College Avenue. Well, you know what they say about the plans of mice and men (and I think the mice had already left the ship).
Just on the other side of I-94 Rawson was again flooded.
I never even knew there was water anywhere near there. In this case, even the eastern lanes were getting very flooded as well. While some cars were still coming eastbound, there was no way to sneak through westbound at all. We had to turn around and head back where we came from. By this time, a police car had blocked the left lanes to allow cars to get out of the area. The only choice left was to go back on I-94.
We had left I-94 nearly an hour ago just minutes from home and all we managed to do was get back on at the next ramp.
This was progress at least. My hope was to take College east and I thought I should be OK. Well, College Avenue was open. We were fine until we turned south on Howell Avenue. Now, Mitchell International Airport is north of College on Howell, so I thought a major road like Howell would be clear. The only water I knew of near Howell was the pond in front of the Milwaukee Area Technical College.
The pond had overflowed.
It was covering our path on Howell. One car was swamped right in front of the College entrance. With lots of traffic coming on the northbound lanes, going the wrong way did not look like a possibility. One last chance. I turned around.
We took College further east.
I was concerned. College Avenue is in something of a valley at the end of one Mitchell Airports runways. For once, it was the opposite side of the road that was flooded. When we reached the next intersection, they were setting a barricade up to block westbound traffic from taking College Avenue. The rest of the trip home the roads were fine. Our trip home from Chicago had taken at least twice as long as usual.
At this point, I need to give you two important pieces of information about our home.
- We live in the lower level of a bi-level house.
- The house has never had a sump pump.
For most of my life, there had never been any water in the sump well. The backyard has even flooded to the point I took an inflatable raft across it and still there was no water in the basement. This changed a few years ago.
We once had a little water in the basement. This only affected a small area of the basement. This prompted me to purchase a submersible pump. I used it to pump the water out of the sump well through a garden hose. It took maybe two hours before the water completely gone and the sump well was empty. It is our belief that the flooding was caused by the driveway my Grandfather had just put in (he had some sump pump problems also at the time. One other time I have noticed some water in the sump well. Other than those two times, we have been dry. This time things were different.
Upon arriving home I made a quick check in the backyard. It was dry. At least, it was not flooded as we have seen in other major rainfalls.
Quickly, I unlocked the door and hurried to check if our home was dry.
It was not good. While maybe a quarter inch of water does not seem like much, it is if your home is the lower level of a bi-level. The entire floor is carpeted. All the carpet was at least soaked. In most areas, the water was above the carpeting and I splashed around as I checked our home.
Everything in contact with the floor was wet.
Anything in a box on the floor was wet. Anything in a box on a box on the floor was wet (the boxes seemed to wick the water up into each other). I also was concerned about all the electrical plugs and outlets (just my computer desk itself draws power from a couple circuits to supply our computers) hoping none of them were actually in a puddle.
My first problem was to get my submersible pump started.
I had the pump but I needed a garden hose. I tried grabbing one from the backyard, but the end came off as I unscrewed it. I needed a new hose and I needed it fast before the water got any higher. It was now quite late (9-9:30pm on a Saturday) and I needed to find someplace open and that I could reach with the roads all flooded (the neighbors did not seem to be home).
I am not a fan of Target.
But, they have a new store not too far away (and on our side of the flooded streets). That seemed like the best bet. I was glad to discover they had garden section and garden hoses. I literally ran through Target with the cart. There was almost no one at the store so a cashier called me to her register as I approached. I drove home as fast as I felt I could without risking a ticket or even the time it would take to explain my hurry to an officer.
Once I got the pump running, the water started to go down.
For several days, we had the front door of the house open with the hose going out the door. There was also the sound of water dripping into the basement drain all night. There were little rivers crossing the laundry room leading to the drain. I spent most of the night picking up carpet or using a carpet cleaner to try to vacuum the water out.
It took several days for the floor to dry.
Nearly all the carpet was ruined. We spent a week sleeping on couches upstairs. While cleaning up, everything has been moved around so it is difficult to find things. Even two weeks later some parts of the house still smell damp even though we have two dehumidifiers taking several gallons of water out of the air a day.
The weather was not over yet though.
The storms continued some more on Sunday. I found it amusing that the normal little girl screams I have been hearing for the past few weeks (several seemed to appear this year in a normally quiet neighborhood) turned into true screams of terror as a storm approached on Sunday. The storms were not too bad in my neighborhood but for some local areas even a little bit more was too much.
I still have much I am thankful for:
- My wife’s insistence that I put my Photoshop computer on a piece of wood instead of right on the floor. Also, the area my computers are in seems to be the highest point of the floor. The carpet there was wet enough to cause the wood my computer was on to warp nearly in half as it dried, yet none of my hardware seems to have suffered any damage.
- We did not lose too much that was important or truly valuable. A few minor things that were in boxes (including all my old Star Wars RPG books that I was collecting) were lost.
- Passports are laminated. There were in a non-waterproof box in our bedroom.
- We had a place to sleep till we got the bedroom dry.
- We are much more fortunate than many others. You may have seen what happened to some houses in Wisconsin Dells as a lake overflowed and then emptied out taking several houses with it. I have had family that used to live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and have been there. I can’t imagine a whole city flooded like that, although even some nearby towns in Wisconsin have similar situations.
It was a long week of cleaning up and sleeping uncomfortably. But we are safe.
While this was the end of the flooding for us, I still had some excitement during the rest of the week.
I attended a Robert Allen real estate seminar. I’ll eventually have a post about the seminar itself, but there were a couple interesting/odd things that happened at the hotel the seminar was held at.
- First, I arrived at the hotel for the first day (nearly late even though the hotel was 7 minutes from my home) to find several trucks from Universal Studios in the parking lot. They were filming a movie in Milwaukee and the crew must have been staying at the hotel. Not something I’m used to seeing.
- Second, there was a tornado warning and the entire hotel was evacuated to the basement. Except for our seminar. No one told us. Apparently, our meeting room was in the center of the building and was considered safe. Still, if there was a tornado possibly headed towards the hotel, I’D LIKE TO KNOW! Wouldn’t you? The seminar guy did not know about it either. Anyway, there was no tornado damage, but storms during the night caused the appearance of buckets around the hotel to catch water dripping from the ceiling. Kind of funny to see in a very nice hotel.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my little story.
I regret that I did not think about taking any photos of the flooding. I was a little bit stressed at the time. A video of the cars trying to make it through hood high water would have been entertaining.
I you have the means, I would suggest donating to charities like the Red Cross or Salvation Army.
Many people were not as fortunate as we were and have lost their homes in other areas of the country. There is also those in other countries that have had even worse events (China and Burma). The Red Cross and Salvation Army are some of the most efficient means of helping others who have suffered real tragedies. Often, they are faster than government aid. They are worthy of our support.
I am still having dreams about water similar to Bart Simpson.
Except it is not because I drank too much water before going to bed. I keep hearing a drip, drip, drip…