Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mixed Emotions Rush In Like Water

Des Moines just broke its own record for the wettest year ever, previously set in the flood-filled year of 1993. Unfortunately, that has meant flash flooding around the state. Sunday night we had a very prolonged, very angry storm that dropped FIVE + inches of rain. Monday morning we learned that our old house in Cambridge went back under water. I always thought that moving away from that house would be a clean break for me, that I would never care about it again. But hearing that another family is going through the same thing we went through, even after the city "fixed" all the drains, starting my head spinning and my gut churning. We saw the story on the news yesterday, how the family living there had to be evacuated by boat and how they had 3 cars go under water. Everyone was safe, but it was like watching a horrible broken record. All the city's improvements didn't make an ounce of difference when the prolonged and heavy rains came. http://www.kcci.com/slideshow/news/24565504/detail.html We could never have seen this coming. We didn't trust that house anymore only because we had seen it under water once, but we never thought it would flood again so completely, or so soon, especially since the city dug up several drains and cleared them out and replaced them with bigger drains, etc. It has been just over 2 years since it flooded last. We also cannot believe this happened in August. Typically, the only months flooding is a concern are the Spring and early Summer months. Cambridge was a cement block around our ankles. Living there felt like being dragged down to the bottom every single day. Of course we are relieved to be out of that house, that town altogether. However, the sickness we feel for the family living there now largely over-shadows that relief. I think about the entire year it took us to rebuild that house. I remember standing there on the street, looking at my house sitting in the middle of a lake and rubbing my pregnant belly for comfort. I remember gutting it out, watching the innards of our home pile up in the front yard like a bunch of soggy trash. I remember walking through a house that looked like it was just being built, having studs and a concrete floor and nothing else. I remember the pangs I felt as I kept thinking of individual things that were lost forever. I remember living with TJ's parents (bless their hearts!) for 2 months while we sanitized the house and replaced all the essential utilities. I remember being relieved to have drywall put in just before bringing Topher home from the hospital because I never wanted him to know a home that was only a skeleton. I remember every nail, every paint stroke, every detail of putting that house back together. It was stressful and painstaking and frustrating and heart-breaking. It only took about 15 minutes of flash flooding yesterday to completely erase every single thing that we did, kick-starting another family's nightmare. Our old neighbors across the street said that they were up at 4am, watching for water. By 5am there was still nothing. And then around 5:15am, the water just starting rushing in. We're not sure if a drain somewhere got clogged, if something broke, or if the water just starting running off of nearby fields, but by 5:30am the block was under water. We always wondered how our house could have already been 3 feet under by the time we woke up, but now we see how quickly the water must have rushed in. It only takes a matter of minutes. We sincerely hope that the city will use its grant money to buy that property out so that family can make a new start and will be able to walk away the way we wanted so badly to do. Unfortunately, Water Street has earned its name once again. --KC


  1. I live on Water Street just down the street to the north from where you used to live in the little tan house on the corner. My name is Deb Russell. I think Cambridge is going to lose some families over this. Johnsons and Metcalfes are both talking about moving. My husband and I are seriously talking about getting out of Cambridge. The city makes all kinds of "fixes" and all kinds of promises and the mayor does nothing. We have lived here since 1993 and are just fed up with the water. I know exactly how you feel and don't blame you a bit for getting out. I just wanted to say hi! I remember seeing you walk by just about every day with Topher in the stroller.

  2. Hi Deb! I'm SO sorry you guys are having to deal with this AGAIN and I don't blame you at all for finally being fed up with it all. What an awful mess, it makes me so sick. The truth of the matter is that Cambridge's water table is much, much too high for anybody to have any part of their dwelling underground, period. We're living in Ankeny now and things are much better for us here. Please let us know if you guys need help with anything and thanks for reading our blog, what a happy surprise to hear from you. :) Water Street doesn't deserve any of the great families living there if you ask me, and those same families do NOT deserve worrying about water. You just want to feel safe in your own home, even when it storms, I totally get that! Great to hear from you, Macie

  3. Aw, Macie...i'm so sorry this is still haunting you. :( you are such a caring person to worry about the family that lives in your old house. Thank goodness everyone is ok, and thank goodness you guys didn't have to rush out of a flooded house with Topher. hopefully the city will buy that property and that family can move on with their lives. I know i've said this before, but you really have a way with words, and i love reading your stories. thinking of those on Water Street.