Oh, it was tornado watch weather for sure. Wednesday afternoon Bun and I went outside to take in the hazy, finally legitimately warm weather. I took some photos, including this one of our sort of flooded backyard stream. Normally this stream is easily jumped or even stepped across, but thanks to a wetter-than-usual early spring, the stream has been wide and boggy for about a month. I've enjoyed watching Canadian geese, blue herons, wood ducks, and even beavers swimming and nosing around in it. Near the top of this photo and running from right to left is the Salt Fork river, and beyond that is our town's wetlands area. It's about the size of six football fields (totally guessing).
Bun lounged in the mulch near our daffodils.
I took photos of pretty blooming things. This bush was humming with honeybees.
These little guys were finally coming up. I'm so happy that spring is here!
Later on Jeff and I took a walk uptown. I wore a dress that showcased my unapologetically pasty white calves to motorists on Main Street and route 150.
While we were on our relatively short walk, Jeff and I experienced the following: a sauna-like humidityfest (seen above in red), a few steamy romantic sprinkles but no clouds overhead (blue), a cheeseburger break while monitoring alarming new clouds in the northwest (end of blue), some uneasy double-time walking towards home (purple), followed by flat-out running from a very dark squall line and a sudden 20 degree temperature drop (green). It was awesome.
It rained all night and Thursday--nonstop thunderstorms with torrential rain. I didn't take any radar screen caps while this was happening. Basically a massive, seemingly endless, chicken strip-shaped blob of yellow, orange, and red doppler radar was working its way up Illinois from soutwest to northeast. Here, let me illustrate that for you.
(The red dot there is our house. The chicken strip radar shape was even bigger than this, too.)
So northern Illinois was getting hammered, and we eventually got hammered as well. All of that water had to go somewhere, and flood watches and warnings were popping up left and right. Jeff and I usually shrug off flood alerts, but this seemed major, like one of those 100-year floods that we've started experiencing every five years or so. We live in the lowest part of the lowest part of Champaign County. Back in January 2008--Jeff and I had been dating for almost a month!--a combination of major snowfall and epic thunderstorms caused flooding so severe that Jeff and his daughter Melissa had to evacuate the house that Jeff and I live in now. There was a rescue with boats and everything. <--I'm making that more dramatic than it was, but still. Boats were involved.
Thanks to the U.S. Geological Survey, we were able to monitor the situation online. They have some charts that show how high the river is near our house--so glad that this site exists. Jeff knew from experience that anything over 19 feet meant that our sunken living room would flood. Anything over 20 feet meant that the rest of our house would flood. We went to bed on Thursday night looking at this chart.
And we were feeling like bad, bad things were going to happen in the morning. Jeff set his alarm clock for 2:00 a.m., saying we'd probably have to get up and start moving furniture and books out of the living room. At 1:30 we were awakened by a bumping sound--I'm not sure what that was, but Jeff sprang out of bed to look outside. I got up, too. The water level had risen considerably over the past few hours. Throbbing with adrenaline, we abandoned the idea of going back to sleep.
Thinking it might be a while before he could do it again, Jeff took a shower while I rather insanely put on some makeup (I'd taken my shower before bed). I guess I didn't want to be one of those bagged-out storm survivors you see on local news reports. I wanted to look like I at least had my act together once the cameras inevitably descended upon Jeff and me, area homeless flood victims.
During the pre-dawn hours we moved as much of our living room furniture and books as we could upstairs to my studio. Oh man, we have too many books. The cats were bewildered. As I went up and down the stairs 400 times, Jeff did what he could to rig up a sump pump outdoors in the dark. He monitored the rate at which the water was rising with a tape measure and did a lot of heavy lifting. At around 3:00 it seemed like we had done all we could do, and we were able to sit down and watch everything that was happening in Boston. What a surreal morning.
As the sky started to brighten in the east, this was what we saw.
The water was about ten feet from the most vulnerable corner of our house. "We're fucked," Jeff concluded, and we called both sets of parents. My folks wanted to come help us in some way or another, but they live on the west side of the state, where a number of roads were closed due to flooding. So they couldn't reach us. Jeff's parents live 45 minutes away, and they drove over in their truck. Jeff moved my car to higher ground (the school parking lot). Meanwhile, I promised myself that I would cry about this later and started packing a couple of go-bags. I couldn't get this silly but great song out of my head:
Jeff's dad drove to Champaign and purchased another sump pump--Jeff had the idea to set it up near the corner of the house along with our other smaller one. They eventually got it going, and then all we could do was monitor the situation. It was an awfully helpless feeling.
But happily the curve on the graph made it seem like things might be slowing down. At around 9:00, Jeff's parents didn't feel like they could stay much longer, as the one road out of our neighborhood was flooding. All we could do was watch and wait, and I called my parents about every half hour to let them know what was going on.
And I took some photos.
I fed the squirrels who are bottomless pits of seed-want no matter what's going on.
Yeah, there's no hopping across this thing.
Bun: WHERE ARE ALL THE STUFFS;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
Sometime during the late morning hours, and after coming within a couple of feet of the house, it seemed like the flood had stopped rising. Bun wanted to see what was happening, and she sat on our deck in the cold watching the water for five minutes as if hypnotized and bewitched.
Slowly over the next couple of days, the water receded. We both felt so relieved.
Meanwhile, one of my paintings was in the Skip Watts Memorial Exhibition in Springfield. I even won an honorable mention along with some money! The reception was Saturday afternoon, but Jeff and I were too wiped out to drive all the way over there to attend. And anyway on Friday I had informed one of the people in charge that we were dealing with flooding, and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to leave the house. So I was sad to have missed the show, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Instead we watched a lot of teals and coots glide around our backyard, and that was pretty wonderful. The light was always lousy while this was happening, so I didn't get any photos.
And here's what our backyard looked like this morning. After the flood all the colors came out, as somebody once said. I didn't have my promised cry, as it turned out, but Saturday morning I enjoyed a celebratory post-traumatic-stress migraine. It's a fun little custom of mine. We also went out and had pizza.
SO. That happened. Please enjoy this.