27 July 2010

Noah! I want you to build...an ark!

We've had a bit of flooding here over the past week. It rained heavily most of last week up in Wisconsin and Minnesota (with at least a couple of bouts of 8-9 inches at a time). Well, that water has to go somewhere, and here it runs south, making its way down the Mississippi River drainage basin toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Last Saturday, I drove to Savanna, my old hometown, and picked my mom up so she could do her shopping about 10am. We got done with everything and got home about 3pm, only to be treated to this in the neighborhood.

We were fortunate that her house and property is just high enough and the flood at its highest got to within probably 1 meter (by height) or 5 meters by slope from the garage. The downslope neighbors weren't quite so lucky, as can be seen above. All of these pictures were taken last Sunday, and the water was starting to recede.

Thing is, Mom doesn't live close to the river, but close to what were the old Milwaukee Road yards. They did get flooded back in '65, but the water has to go up considerably to get to this point-much higher than most floods along the Mississippi. A flash flood like this, rolling down the Plum River on the east side of town, can overflow.

The Plum River is probably 3-4 meters wide on average and in most spots is probably about 1/2 meter deep. Not so last weekend:

It's flowing pretty fast under the Route 64 bridge east of town. Looks more like the Mississippi at this point. This cut off a couple of roads nearby.

This is Marquette Park in Savanna, right along the Mississippi. The blacktop is actually parking for people towing boats. Just below is the road through the park-currently underwater, along with the picnic shelters. I've seen the water higher in downtown Savanna-1993 comes to mind. The floodwater kind of 'snuck in through the back door' this time.

Probably the big blow of this bout of high water was the flow through the old rail yards. Although most of the yards have been gone for going on 25 years now, the Canadian Pacific (which bought the old Milwaukee lines) still has a main line and crew change point here, as does the Burlington Northern Santa Fe. The CP yards did get major wet, and I suspect the BNSF yard did as well. I saw trains starting to stack up on the mains north and south of town. They'll be a while getting those rerouted around the affected rails.

Looks like several cars got derailed here. I wouldn't be surprised if the rails were displaced as well. Looks like the CP will need a big hook and a rail building crew here before too long. The lake in the background is normally flat and dry land where the yards were.

Which brings us to the Route 84 bridge and viaduct:

Part of the embankment to the bridge approach was washed away, along with the concrete piling nearest. It looks like the rebar is still in place but the outer concrete was peeled away. It looked like one or two railroad cars got knocked into the bridge as well. I'd guess the 84 Bridge will be out of commission for a while. That road gets a lot of traffic as it goes up the Illinois side of the river. Fortunately Savanna has a bridge across the Mississippi and the people in town can get south with a minimum of hassle. The people of the south side of town past the washed-out bridge now have a several-kilometer detour through various country roads to get to the business district, which of course was a short hop before the weekend. Since the State of Illinois has somewhat less money on hand than your average homeless person, God and the federal government (which is in a similar financial situation to Illinois) are the only ones who'll know when the bridge and viaduct will get repaired.

It's been something of a mess along the Upper Mississippi over the past few days, but we'll all pull through. This is a hazard of living along a watercourse. This event has given people in the small towns something to talk about, if nothing else. And bloggers like myself as well.

You can read a report from the local TV station here.

yankeedog out.


  1. Water Water everywhere. Good to see your Mum is on the highish side of town and had water views for a while at least.

  2. An ark would be awesome.

  3. Moko an ark would now be down river, good to hear your mum didn't get washed out.

  4. An ark? I'd settle for a Zodiac with a decent outboard.

    Or a JETSKI. AWSM.

  5. DAmn DAWG!... ya mum was lucky, thats a power of water, as Doc mentiuons it, the ZODIAC is cool..sept with a BIF ARSE FKN GUN ON IT!..ya know..croc's or gators might be about!.

    stay safe..glad ya mums good too


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  7. Everyone-Thanks for your thoughts. The water has gone down pretty much to where it should be. Mom got lucky-some of the neighbors lost a lot.

    Faridah-Sorry. Not interested in hearing from some 3rd World spammer. Buh-bye.