Little did I fathom that when I left for work in the big city on Wednesday morning that there was going to be any problems in the community of Joliet where our home is. Approximately an hour and a half after I left the town was hit with a flood from Rock Creek flooding about two-thirds of the community--mostly everything to the south of Highway 212. This flood was due to uncontrollable circumstances that combined to make the water miss a curve in the creek and head straight down the highway. Though there is considerable debate on whether or not the flooding could have been avoided, it flooded. Highway 212 from Rockvale to Red Lodge was closed down as the community was slowly inundated with water--LOTS OF WATER! The pictures above are looking towards Main Street approximately twelve hours after the water flooded the community--it was slowly going down.
Both the wife and I had been at our places of employment in the big city when we began receiving inquiries about the flood in Joliet. My first reaction was--what flood? At first I did not believe those who were asking the questions, but it was soon on the local radio stations that Highway 212 was closed due to a major flood in Joliet. Talk about turning a day into a bummer! From that moment on my only concern was what was happening in the town I call home--was my house flooding? Was the church I serve flooding? What about the people who attend the church--were they safe? My son--who was at home--safe? A million scenarios flashed through my mind. It was difficult to concentrate on work the whole day as I kept getting various reports about the situation. I was pretty edgy by quitting time rolled around.
Making me even more edgy was the fact that the road to Joliet was still closed come quitting time. The wife assured me that local traffic could go into Joliet, but that did nothing to ease my anxiousness. We met at the daughter's house to decide what we were doing--were we going to go home, or were we going to spend the night in the big city? Basically we had a nice visit with the daughter, youngest son, and our two furry grandchildren, had a little pizza, and decided to take the adventure and return home. Of course this was only after getting some reassurance from a member of the church that it was safe to come home. Thus the adventure was on!
I was not prepared for the scene that I encountered once I arrived in Joliet. The highway looked like a river. water was everywhere. Pumps were humming all around town in a noisy chorus. Rubber-neckers were driving all over town taking in the flood. We both had to take a haphazardly way to get to the house to avoid the water, but thankfully the north side of the highway avoided the brunt of the flooding. It was a mess.
With the high water and the fast flow we were pretty much stuck on our side of the highway when we got home. My concern for the church was abated some when I was told that the flood water never crested over the curb and into the church. That was later squashed when a member of the church called to say that the church basement had about ten inches of water in the basement. My heart sunk. From a distance the church looked safe from our side of the street--images can be deceiving.
The amount of water that flooded the community was more than its antiquated sewer system could handle the result was a double dose of flooding. A lot of the flooding came through the sewer system speeding up the amount of time that it took to fill the community's many basements. That was the cause of the flooding in the church basement. It was not a mere ten inches of water in the basement, it was closer to twenty inches at 6:30AM this morning. The pictures below are of the two entrances into our basement.
As you can see there is a lot of water! The church family had five families with flooded basements. The town had its only grocery store flooded. Two-thirds of the homes in the community were flooded. But we are not the only ones who have been affected by the nine inches of rain received in the past seven days--there are many communities that have been flooded. One of the hardest and poorest areas of Montana to be flooded was the Crow Reservation south of the big city. The flooding was so bad through that area that Interstate 90, from Hardin to the Wyoming state line was closed for several days. And, the flooding is probably not over as more rain is predicted this Memorial Day Weekend, plus the warmer temperatures and rain is accelerating the snow melt creating even more water down the waterways of the state. Creeks and rivers already at flood stage are expected to flood again next week. Who would have imagined this in a hundred years? I guess that is why they call it a "hundred year" flood.
So it is that the community has banded together to help one another out. The pumps are humming. Sandbags are being filled and placed. People are reaching out to one another--taking care of one another. Joliet is being a community--people with a common union, even if it is a flood that binds them together. In the days to come please keep the people of flood ravaged Montana in your prayers--we just ain't used to all of this water! After years of drought we appreciate the water, but enough is enough!