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Flash Flood Watch! Er, I Mean, Watch! Flash Flood!

You might recall that back in December, we had some amazing rain come through here, and in order to save our family room from being flooded, Jim made a siphon out of a garden hose and I dug a trench from our back yard halfway to our front yard, in order to drain out the major lake that had formed back there. I’m not going to bother sending you to that post, because it was hella-long and about all sorts of different things that happened over Hanukkah week.

Never fear. You’re gonna get to see Round 2 of the Wells Family’s Throwdown with Mother Nature.

It’s still sort of Winter here, you see. The ground is still frozen beyond the first 8 inches of depth (or so), even though we had two glorious days last week of 60-degree temps. As it got closer to the weekend, the ominous weather forecasts started coming out: Flash Flood Watches and Warnings all over our area, for two and a half days. Uh-oh.

I think it started raining on Friday afternoon or evening. And it didn’t stop.

It rained all day Saturday except for an hour or so. By Saturday afternoon our yard started to fill up again.

By Sunday morning our sump pump was running every 30 seconds or so. The 14 year old and I had a Purim Carnival to attend at religious school (I know Kat, I know…I have to tell you more about Purim! Later! Or tomorrow!) and the older kid went to clean the salon like he does every Sunday. When we returned home, Jim was outside, making the trench bigger. (In case you have forgotten from the last time I wrote about this, our family room is on the left side of the house and on a concrete slab. The basement, where the sump is, is on the right side of the house.) We ended up dealing with the water all afternoon, and in fact had to miss the Eagle Court of Honor for a boy in our Troop. That was tough. We felt horrible because we had RSVPed that we’d be there, but I called one of our friends and asked him to give our regrets; we had to stay home. Jim made sure to call our troop’s newest Eagle Scout last night to offer our congratulations, but we sure wish we could have been there.

But it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature! So we stayed.

Let me tell more of the story with photos.

Here is the trench (new and improved!). Beyond the fence is our back yard.


I took this photo while standing in the same spot; I just turned toward the street. Notice that we’ve got quite the river flowing there. If this happens again, I plan to have a blog contest for the naming of our little river. Just an FYI.


What’s that you say? You want to see it in motion? Your wish is my command.

Here is the younger boy, standing at-the-ready, waiting to clear the sewer cover when it will inevitably get clogged with leaves again. If you look at the bottom left corner of the shadow of the tree, you’ll see the little whirlpool of water, trying its best to swirl down the drain.


Roxie didn’t want to get her dainty paws wet, so she stayed inside and supervised. Lazy A$$. (ALTHOUGH, I must tell you that Jim reluctantly gives her credit for warning him about the flood while he was working out in the basement. Amazing stuff. I now shall call her Lassie on occasion when she acts in other smart ways.)


Oh yes! Did I mention the sandbags? We bought two sandbags to put in the back of Jim’s old truck YEARS AND YEARS ago. We got rid of that truck but kept the sandbags. Moved them from house to house three times. They rest in the garage under his current vehicle, doing absolutely no good for anybody. Anyway, sometimes it pays to have some stuff sitting around, because our screened-in back porch was flooding worse than I had ever seen it, and part of the problem was the huge gap under the door. So I put a sandbag there. (I put the other one in the porch against the corner of the house, because that’s where the water was headed.)


Our patio, right outside the screened-in porch, was under a couple of inches of water. This kills us. Though it will dry out and be fine, we miss seeing it clean, because we made it ourselves. Here is is, all shiny and new, on the day we finished it.


Here’s how it looked yesterday. S’mores, anyone?


Here’s a view of our river trench from inside the screened-in porch.


Sump pump on the other side of the house? Check. At the peak of the rain, it was running every 6 seconds. We replaced our old sump pump last year because it just didn’t seem to be working as well as we thought it should. Thank goodness we listened to our instincts on that one!


Finally, the mess that is our backyard.


It’s hard work saving a house. But you know what? We can’t complain too much. We were successful again. Zero water made it inside. Sure, the side yard is a nightmare and will require hours of fixing, and possibly the sinking of a PVC pipe so the back yard will drain without us having to be out there helping it along, but I’d much rather fix the yard than buy new carpeting and replace personal items.

The younger boy suggested that we start a business “Saving houses from water”. Uh, thanks for the vote of confidence, kid…but we’ll pass.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mom24 March 9, 2009, 11:40 pm

    I’m very glad so far you’re winning. Floods are the worst. The absolute worst.

    So sorry you’re having to deal with it though.

  • Melissa March 10, 2009, 12:28 am

    Holy cow! I would have been freaking out. I know at our last house we did the same thing with clearing the sewer cover. I was 10 weeks pregnant and sicker than a dog standing in the rain clearing the sewer..good times…

    I’m so glad that water went where it was supposed to and your not replacing any valuables!! Well, other then your lawn!!

  • Shawna March 10, 2009, 2:06 am

    Congratulations on saving a house – you rock! 🙂

  • Sue March 10, 2009, 2:42 am

    Did I see a crocodile in that river you have in your yard? You with your tiara, the moat with crocodiles, is Jim’s middle name Lancelot? I thought they only had castles in Europe. Better watch out, Angie and Brad might want to move in…..

  • Jennifer March 10, 2009, 2:58 am

    Ohhh MAN!! That just bites!!! We’ve been lucky (knocking on the wood that is my head as I type), we haven’t had any flooding of that nature. Buuuut…a couple of years ago a sewer line backed up into our finished basement and we ended up with 4 inches of disgusting water. It was a rather, uhhh, shitty situation if ya know what I mean! So, in a nutshell, I feel your pain! If I lived closer, I would have come helped dig a trench. I really would have! And then I would have made you crack out the marshmallows and we would have sat in the rain eating s’mores.

  • Michelle March 10, 2009, 3:38 am

    Yikes! Glad you managed to keep dry, Melisa. Can I suggest moving into my neighborhood? 250 year flood zone, walkout basements and ummm no water. Plus, you can live five houses south of me, which would be just a huge bonus, right?

  • Huckdoll March 10, 2009, 7:23 am

    Ohhhhhhh MY! I’ve seen you tweeting this, but OMG. Other than that, I’m speechless.

  • Kat March 10, 2009, 8:04 am

    Holy cow, that is quite something. So happy that you guys were able to safe the house from the flood.

    It’s been rainy here as well (not as bad though but steadily) and we’re facing problems because of it too. Mind you not as terrible as seeing your house in danger of flooding but ever since the rain the drains clog up and the worst stench emanates from the shower drain. So bad that I can’t have guests over – just too embarrasing.

    Nothing in comparison to your experience though. Sending lots of sunshine your way 🙂

  • NukeDad March 10, 2009, 1:58 pm

    Youch! That’s similar to what we were going through a few years back. Maybe call a landscape guy and see if he can come out with a Bobcat and make a trench for you. They can grade them so you hardly notice, and you won’t have to worry about re-doing your side yard everytime. With Spring right around the corner, your grass will grow back in in no time!

  • MaNiC MoMMy™ March 10, 2009, 3:09 pm

    Oh.My.Gosh.

    The part with the, “Do you want to see it in motion?” just stunned me. Now I do see why you were up trying to see if your Noah’s Ark was still in place or not. Holy shitola!

  • The Microblogologist March 10, 2009, 4:11 pm

    As a resident of the newest great lake , Lake Iowa, you have my sympathy. Especially since I am lucky and live on the higher ground in my lake… er state. The creek not far from my apartment is so high, pretty close to flood stage I think, and the forecast sucks!

  • nonnasnonsense March 16, 2009, 3:57 am

    whew. i’m soooo glad we live up where no flooding can ever get to us. at least that’s what hubby tells me every time i see flash flooding warnings anywhere near us. he better be right 🙂

    great job on the trench. i can’t believe that river! it’s unbelievable. bet they didn’t warn you about that when you moved in there huh?

    it finally stopped raining here today after 4″ this week and guess what? it’s supposed to rain again tomorrow! woohoo. NOT