Wednesday, August 5, 2009

When It Rains, It Pours

Yesterday my city was hit with a storm that brought so much rain with it that large parts of the city were flooded. Cars were submerged, dumpsters and parked cars were swept "downstream" from the current of the water, basements (and sometimes more) flooded. A friend of mine, Eric Truman, who ended up stuck downtown during the worst of it, took pictures of some of the flooding.

In the first picture, taken after the rain stopped, is my church. You can see how deep the water is in the street, and according to Eric, that was after the water level had dropped a little. Our church was fortunate (relatively speaking) because it sits on a little bit of a hill. The basement got a foot of water in it and no water in the rest of the building.

In the second picture, the building in the background is the Main Library downtown. The basement was entirely flooded out, to the tune of approximately $1 million in damages. They had new computers and all the new books that were going to be sent to a new branch opening mid-August, among other things. Such a horrible loss.

One thing that amuses me about the picture, however, is the two people walking in waist-deep water huddled under an umbrella. I figure, at that point, just let the rain hit you on the head too, you really can't get much wetter. ;)

Some people lost just about everything with the flood waters in their house, many lost their cars due to flood damage. I am really fortunate because our basement didn't leak at all and our street never flooded. During the worst of the rain, there were rivers running rapidly down both sides of the street (which happens during any big rainstorm), but the street drained quickly when the rain stopped and the water in the "rivers" probably only got 2-3" deep at the most. Streets just a few blocks over were not quite as lucky as us. When my husband drove home that evening (he left for work just before the thunderstorm really hit hard, so I'm incredibly thankful he made it to work safely), he said he saw several areas where parts of our neighborhood had been closed off for flooding.

The University of Louisville was flooded really badly as well. Several friends of mine who work there were trapped for part of the day because of the flooding, and a few people even had to be rescued by boat from where they were. Fortunately, all my friends who had been trapped did manage to get home later in the day.

On one of the local news stations, they showed a video of someone riding his canoe down one of the streets of Old Louisville, which I thought was really great. Even in the face of disaster, someone found a way to laugh.

This is the third major flood that has hit the city that I'm aware of. The one in 1937 (we have "high water mark" signs showing where the water was during that flood, but I haven't seen pictures of how the water yesterday compared to those), the one in 1997 (I moved from a 1st floor apartment whose ceiling started leaking in three spots the day of that flood, so it was definitely a good move, though a little earlier would have been better), and now yesterday's flood, which I guess will be known as the flood of 2009. Although the total rainfall yesterday was less than those other two floods, the amount of rain that fell in an hour was record-breaking for the area. The fast rain and all the rain we'd been having recently is what combined to cause such major flash flooding.

In addition to this being the third flood, it's the third natural disaster we've had in a year. The leftover damaging winds of Ike tore through last September and took a lot of trees and power lines with them. In January, we had a really powerful and damaging ice storm come through and take more trees and the power lines again (we lost power for several days during both storms, as did most of the city). My daughter who is in school missed a week of school for each event because of how long it took to restore power to the schools (not to mention the rest of the city) and also repair damage.

On the bright side, this year's July was the mildest for Louisville in recorded history, so not all the weather oddities have been bad. Overall though, it's been a tough year, since last September, and I'm hoping that we've seen the worst that Mother Nature has in store for us for a while.

Edited to add: There is a fund set up for donations to help with flood damage at the library. You can send donations to The Library Foundation, 301 York Street, Louisville, KY, 40203

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