June 21, 2012

June 19th: MN Rainstorm: My Birthday

Tuesday was my birthday, the 19th of June.  It was a dark & thundery day, and it rained without end. 
I actually enjoyed the storm, for it's pretty rare to have my whole family home together within the walls of our house for the day.  Mitch was rained out of work, and the younger kids chattered & played happily.  It was a pretty mellow day while the thunder rolled & the rain fell.  They made me a lemon cake with chocolate frosting. 
By early evening the rain picked up pace, and we watched as the pond began to rise quickly into the yard & across the driveway as the minutes passed. 
The kids thought this was a great adventure.  They ran outside & laughed & played, floating around the driveway & yard in kayaks.
(Poor photos - it was dark, pouring, & my lens was wet.)
According to our local radio station, we received 9.75 inches of rain within 24 hours.   I don't know if that's accurate or not, but fact is - we got more rain than I've ever seen in my lifetime. 
June 19th turned out disastrous for much of northern Minnesota.  

Mitch decided to take me out for birthday dinner just as we realized things were really getting out of hand.  We moved vehicles to the other side of the culvert in case it was washed out by the time we got home.  There were waterfalls coming out of the woods along the highway in places we have never seen water before. The streets of town were a mess.
By the time we got home around dark, the rise in water in our area was at it's peak, there was an outrageous amount of it flowing over roads & high in ditches.  
Our basement managed to stay dry (thank goodness for good, strong gutters!) and our driveway, despite the wide & fast moving new river washing across it, held up extremely well.  The road we live on, like all the area roads, will need some re-construction, but we fared well.  Even our garden is going to be ok, things are still rooted & reaching for the sun.

These photos were taken the next afternoon, after the water had already gone down a great deal. 
Mason & Eric did some kayaking in the woods & some rough rapids. 
Lots of splashing going on.
Not all fun & games, though.  The city of Duluth, the city I've loved most all my life, is a disaster. 
I feel terrible, and am in disbelief at the damage & waste & the work that lies ahead there.  Those places have not seen just the mess of flooding, but sudden destruction from the power of the water.
The photos of places with the most damage & destruction  - the crumbling of streets & structures - are places that have been widely excavated, paved & covered in concrete.  I can't help but feel frustrated that the severity of the destruction is worse due to the paving paradise to put up parking lots.  That water had nowhere to go.  It ran together, and as it built volume, it gained force, and became a path of destruction.
Even though this was a freak-of-nature amount of rain, I think the effects were made much worse by the loss of natural earth surface, drainage, absorption, dispersion.
It's very unfortunate, all-around. 

As of today, the rain has stopped, and it's been beautiful. Our pond & stream are catching up with the raging overflow and are settling back into place.
We know all that water is going somewhere, though, and it continues to create widespread flooding for people near lakes & rivers as they continue to rise.
Some of them are our relatives.  Many, many are affected by this.  It's the widest ranging disaster I've ever known here in northern Minnesota.

As for me and my birthday, I looked at the day as one giant cleanse - washing things clean & new for a fresh new year of life.  (Just a personal take from my own experience of the actual rainy day- in no way am I lightening what others are going through in the time that has followed.)
The rainstorm kicked off a major home renewal & de-clutter project for me,  & inspired a whole frame of mind about the start of another year of life. 
Since we spent the day mostly indoors waiting out the storm, I began a very thorough de-cluttering of our house.  Drawer by drawer & room by room, it is my goal to empty things out & start fresh, putting back only the things that are useful or evoke positive feelings. 
In the event we are ever the ones in a hurry to save our belongings, it will sure be nice to have the unnecessary stuff weeded out.  And it'll be healthy for everyday living, too.

I'm looking forward to a new year of life ahead of me, and choosing what's in it wisely. 
I've known sunshine & summer weather every year on my birthday until now.  Hoping things get better soon for all those currently troubled, and hoping I don't see another so soaked in at least another 33 years.
(From Lilly, on our little blackboard.)

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