Friday, June 12, 2009

Memories of the Flood

I'm sure everyone living in Oshkosh can remember what they were doing on this date a year ago. For many, it was watching in horror as their basements, their homes and their yards filled up with water--as it just would not stop raining hard that evening.

Some of the things I'll always remember from the flood of '08 include watching the water literally flowing into Oshkosh Lourdes High School through broken windows--flooding out lower level classrooms, locker rooms and both of the gymnasiums. I'll never forget what appeared to be a geyer shooting up from a drain hole in one guy's backyard not far from Lourdes--and people in that same neighborhood trying to help each other get vehicles or personal belongings to someplace that wasn't under water.

I still remember running into the band that was supposed to open for the BoDeans at Waterfest that night walking around the east side of town trying to find streets that weren't flooded out so they could get out of town. I still chuckle when I think of the Auxiliary Police officer who was directing traffic on 9th Avenue telling people that had just been detoured off of flooded Highway 41 that there was nowhere for them to go since the city streets were completely flooded out in both directions as well. And I can still recall the anger people living around the Ohio Street area felt as they saw their properties flood out for the second time in less than a week. Many of them are still angry--as they feel the city has done nothing to address the problem.

I'll never forget the sick feeling I had in my stomach when I tried calling home that night and my wife wasn't answering. I was imagining her using a bucket trying to keep up with the water overflowing from the sump pit or leaching through the basement walls. We actually caught a break--because the weekend before the heavy rains caused an overflow of the sump pit and we found a problem with the pump. We got that fixed just in time for the Big One a few days later.

I'm sure several of my co-workers will remember having to sleep on the couches in our sales office because there was no way for them to get back home that night. One former co-worker still recalls the sight of fish swimming in the hallway of his apartment building. And we have a couple of new station vehicles thanks to our parking lot flooding out.

While the signs of damage may be gone, those memories will live on. Along with the pride we should feel for bouncing back from that disaster--with neighbor helping neighbor--showing why we like living here in Oshkosh.


  1. Ah yes - several of us were flooded in at work that night; I was one of the last to leave, at about 2:30 in the morning (we closed at 8) and got home to a foot of water in our basement. Could have been worse, though - last time we flooded here I lost an 8 month old top of the line washing machine, not covered by warrenty OR insurance due to the act of God!

  2. Yes, I recall the deluge! A few days prior to that we received what was a record type rainfall with 4.65" falling on the 7th and 8th in my backyard. The 5.32" on the 12th was an amazing amount of rainfall for just a few hours of time.

    A fellow golfer and I were reminiscing on the course yesterday as a matter of fact. Just incredible all the losses that were put on the side of the road on every block.